What to do when God says “no” to your “yes.”
When most of us think back, we are grateful not EVERY prayer we prayed came true. Garth Brooks writes to this with fellow songwriters Pat Alger and Larry Bastia in “Unanswered Prayers” [No Fences, Capitol Nashville, 1990]. Country music fan or not, the following is true: some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.
But there are other prayers. For example, we started praying for loved ones with incurable cancer. We prayed for flood waters to cease, or family members to stop abusive behavior.
We weren’t praying for self-gain. As best as we could see it, nothing or one would be harmed (or even ruffled) if this prayer came true. Quite the opposite, the prayer, if answered, would bring joy, light, and love.
Prayer changes the person who prays, but that’s another column for another edition. Still another column is why God says no to our prayers. Look for these columns in February 2018.
Here I focus on what I’ll call the fallout—what do you do when God says “no” to your prayer that will benefit you, others, or the world?
First, understand you are not God. I’m certain your altruistic prayer was awesome. Had it been answered the way you prayed, there would be joy, not pain. There would be healing, not deep holes.
But here’s the thing. There is still learning to do. There is more LEANING to do, too, and here I mean our dependence on God is not arbitrary, it’s crucial. Scripture makes it clear God wants us to be HIS (Psalm 100:3, 1 John 4:4). He doesn’t want to share us.
God does not bring pain so that we draw nearer to Him; that thought is incorrect. God makes us see in our unanswered prayers that one, we need Him, and two, that when we stay with Him (and oh, yes, this can be IMPOSSIBLY hard sometimes), good will come. This “good” may not be what you want or when you want it, but God is in the business of drawing you and others to Him.
Another response we can have when God says “no” to our “yes” is to let the situation go. This can also be IMPOSSIBLY hard sometimes because we are creatures of habit—even when it comes to holding onto painful things.
But let it go.
The following is true. When we pray, “Take it, Lord,” God does just that—He takes it from us. With freedom, we can begin to see something else, something new.
You are a new creation each new day (2 Corinthians 5:17). The “no”s we receive sometimes help us live into a life we have yet to imagine. Live into that. Even if you want to hold on, let go.
This blog first appeared in my column KEEPING THE PACE in the SUSQUEHANNA INDEPENDENT, January 30, 2018