I have two children whom I love dearly. I would do almost anything for them. I know in my heart that if needed I would lay my life on the line to protect them. Yet over the years, there have been numerous times that I have said no to their requests.
In most of those cases, they were asking for something that I knew was ultimately not good for them. Sometimes it broke my heart to say no to them. But as their father, I knew what was best for them in the larger scheme of things.
We have a phrase for children who are given everything that they ask for–spoiled brats.
You’ve met them, I know. They are obnoxious and arrogant, and not grateful for anything because they had everything handed to them on a silver platter.
So it is with God. God knows our needs, and He also sees the “big picture” that you and I cannot see from our limited finite human perspective. Just as we know when to say no to our children whom we love, God knows when to say no to us.
Now I realize there is a school of thought in the Body of Christ today that holds to the opinion that when we pray in faith, that God always answers in the affirmative. Some of those who hold to this belief are good friends of mine. Some of them are people who I greatly respect. But I respectfully differ with them in this area.
Looking back on my life, I can tell you time after time after time when I earnestly prayed for a certain outcome that now, with the blessing of hindsight, I realize was not best for me. There was a ministry position that I was absolutely convinced God was leading me to. When God closed that door–actually “slammed” would be a better description–I was heartbroken and dejected. Months later I found out that the position I thought was so ideal was actually a horrible situation where there was serious sin in the camp. Had God given me what I begged Him for in that instance, I would have been in the middle of a colossal mess.
I am certain that if you reflect back on your life, you can relate similar circumstances in your life. Maybe it was a boyfriend or girlfriend that you just knew they were “The One” but after God closed that door you realized in hindsight they weren’t. Maybe it was a house or some other material possession that you asked God for and after He said no you realized that once again He knew best.
We once just knew that God had led us to a certain house. We even walked around it and prayed, thanking God for leading us to this house and laying claim to it in the spiritual realm. Two days later the house got sold out from under us. Again, we were dejected and felt like God ignored us. He didn’t ignore us. He just said no. Just three months later God clearly opened the door for us to follow Him in obedience to another area of ministry in another state. If we had bought the house we had our hearts set on, we would have been entangled in that and it would have been difficult to go where God was sending us. God knew that, so He said no.
I believe that every word of the Bible is there for a reason. I am convinced that God gave us the glimpse into the heart of Jesus as He prayed in the Garden as a model prayer for us. Basically, Jesus told His Father, “Here’s what I want, but more than that, I want what You want. I want Your will to be done.”
There have been many times in my life that God answered our prayers in an unmistakable way. I am so thankful for those times, for they have strengthened my faith. But I am equally thankful for the times when God said no.
Because my Father knows best.
by Alan Riley