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  • Writer's pictureDean Thompson

When God Says, “No”

No one likes rejection. It’s a tough pill to swallow when reality doesn’t meet our expectations. In our culture, we’re taught that as long as we work hard and do what’s necessary, we’ll get what we desire. Sometimes, however, that doesn’t always go according to plan. What do we do? Some of us get discouraged and angry, while others keep at it and don’t lose hope.

What do we do when God tells us “no”? When our prayers don’t get answered in our favor, it’s hard for us to reflect on the “why” behind the “no” at the moment. Here are some things to keep in mind when the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we hope.

1. Understand that you’re not alone. Others in the world haven’t received the answers they would have hoped from God, which shows that He is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Eph. 6:9). When you are feeling discouraged because God said “no” to your prayers, wouldn’t it be great to lean on other people who’ve had similar experiences? We’ve been called to serve one another, and this is one of the ways we can help each other through a difficult time.

2. Be patient. This is a tough virtue in light of living in a microwave culture. But the truth is, sometimes God’s “no” may just be “not yet.” God doesn’t operate on our timetable (2 Pet. 3:8). And it’s impossible for us to know all that He knows (Psa. 139:1–6).

3. Pray that the Lord’s will be done (Matt. 6:9–10). God’s will is full of goodness, wisdom, and holiness because He is infinitely good, wise, and holy. So, it’s incumbent upon us to pray for His will to be done in our lives. I agree with Tiffany Smith, who said,

“Though we often pray to God with petitions for others and ourselves, things that are our will. We should recognize that our will is far inferior to the will and timing of God the Father. So, though, it is okay for us to ask things of God, we need to seek to have a heart willing to pray and accept that God’s will to be done above our own.” [1]

We should trust that God’s will is what’s best for us. I know He has our best interest in mind because He loves us.

4. Pray in faith (Jas. 1:5–6). When you pray, do you have full assurance that God is going to be able to give you what you ask Him for? Do you have a firm conviction that God is going to come through for you, without a shadow of a doubt? Some of us don’t realize that our faith in who God is and what He can do plays a huge role in our prayers.

We must be ready to fall down at the throne of mercy and grace and pray God-sized prayers. If you have small faith to the point that you’re doubting if God can really answer your prayers, then it’s necessary to increase your faith.

5. Have a different vantage point or point of view. God knows how things are going to work out. His greatness is far beyond anything we could ever comprehend (Psa. 145:3). He sees the beginning to the end, meaning, He can see things that we simply cannot (Eccl. 3:11). So, when we pray and feel as if God does not hear us, we have to have faith that things are working out for our good because He has a different vantage point than we do.

6. Don’t give up or lose hope! I’m reminded of the parable Jesus taught about a widow in Luke 18. This woman was persistent in her request to an unjust judge to get justice from her enemy. She kept at it. Eventually, the unjust judge granted her request. We read:

“4 For a while he was unwilling; but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect any person, 5 yet because this widow is bothering me, I will give her justice; otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out’” (NASB, emp. added).

So, what’s the application? If an unjust judge can grant this widow’s request, what makes us think that God, the Righteous Judge, will not listen to those who cry out to Him day and night (Luke 18:7)? I understand that it can be hard to stay motivated when you feel like God is not there, but He is. Sometimes we have to be persistent, especially when it’s something we really need.

Dear reader, I hope these tips will help you the next time you get a “no” from Jehovah. One of the hardest things we may deal with in life is not getting the answer we want when we pray. But it’s not the end of the world! Keep in mind that God’s thoughts are much higher than our thoughts and He knows what we need (Isa. 55:8–9; Matt. 6:25–31). Think about it.


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