Our children do not like it when Kim or I tell them “no.” But we have a God-given responsibility to provide for them, lead them, and help them make the best decisions possible. And sometimes what is best for them is for us to say “no” to the things they ask of us.
If we imperfect parents know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to our children, how much more does our perfect Heavenly Father know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to the things we ask of Him in prayer.
I came across this devotion today from Experiencing God Day-by-Day, written by Henry Blackaby. It is a good reminder of God’s sovereignty and how we relate to Him through prayer. Let’s live our lives with a God-centered perspective on everything. Let’s trust Him, pray to Him, and courageously accept His will.
When God Says No
“And he killed James, John’s brother, with the sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the days of Unleavened Bread.” (Acts 12:2–3)
Can you accept God’s will when His answer is no? If you are praying in God’s will, He will always answer you when you pray (Jer. 33:3). However, sometimes His answer will be no.
King Herod arrested Peter and prepared to have him executed. During the night, as his church prayed, Peter’s life was spared when an angel freed him. God miraculously answered the prayers of His people that night. Yet not long before, James, too, had been arrested by Herod. James, however, was executed. Surely the church had prayed for James as fervently as they did for Peter, yet that time God’s answer had been no.
Did God love Peter more than James? Of course not. James had been one of Jesus’ closest friends. Yet God allowed James to die while He continued to use Peter in His service. The church in Jerusalem did not become bitter toward God. They accepted His answer because they trusted His love and wisdom.
There are times when God wants us to persist in our praying until He has completed His work in us (Luke 11:5–8; 18:1–6). However, when God’s answer is no, it is futile to continue pleading for a yes. Some refuse to take no for an answer, insisting that if you pray long enough and hard enough, God will ultimately grant any request you make. It is an affront to your Lord to continue pleading with Him when He has clearly said no. The purpose of prayer is not to conform God to our will but to adjust our will to God. We must learn to trust God so that if He says no, we accept that His will is best.
–Experiencing God Day by Day: A Devotional and Journal