When God Says No

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God is trustworthy, even when He must answer a prayer request with “no.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

We’ve all made foolish requests of God, which we’re now glad He didn’t answer. But this is easily forgotten when He’s presently withholding something we think is good. With so many scriptural promises to answer prayer, why is God saying no? According to His Word, there are several possible reasons.

God has forbidden it. God won’t contradict His Word or will, so praying for something prohibited in Scripture is futile. Because of Moses’ disobedience, God had decreed the leader wouldn’t enter the Promised Land. Moses asked Him to reconsider but was told not to speak of it again (Deut. 1:37; Deut 3:23-28).

It’s for our protection. Because of the divine revelations Paul received, God allowed a “thorn in the flesh” to remain in order to keep him from exalting himself. The Lord prioritizes our spiritual protection over physical comfort.

God has a higher goal for us. Christ’s power was displayed in the weakness caused by Paul’s thorn. Knowing the higher goal for his suffering allowed Paul to be content and even appreciative of his weakness for Christ’s sake.

The Lord has something better for us. Jesus didn’t immediately heal Lazarus. Mary and Martha couldn’t yet understand that He was going to do something even greater—raising Lazarus, which would glorify God (John 11:1-44).

Our motives are wrong. James says one of the reasons we don’t receive our request is because we’re asking for selfish reasons and not according to God’s will (John 4:3).

Many times we won’t understand the good that God is doing by withholding what we desire. But these examples let us know we can trust Him.

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