In part one of this discussion, I shared my personal journey of coming to understand that praying is a lot different than demanding. Praying allows God to say “no.” Demanding expects God to do whatever I ask of Him…period.
The problem with that is there are dozens of examples in scripture of God saying “no.” But why would God say “no” if I ask him to do something or give me something I need? There are two reasons exposed in scripture.
The first is sin. Oftentimes sin will get in the way of us truly understanding what God’s desire is for us, making it impossible to even know how to pray! On top of that, sin – if left unrepentant – separates us from God’s blessing and favor. We see that in several examples like when King Saul prayed for help and guidance, but had previously removed so far from God and was so engrossed in unrepentant sin that He no longer answered Saul’s prayers (1 Samuel 28:6-7).
The second reason God often says “no” is when it is not His will and because it is not the best thing or the best way. The most obvious example of that is when Jesus prayed for the “cup of suffering” to pass by him. But – being our perfect example – Jesus also prayed for his Father’s will to be done and left room for Him to say “no.” Obviously, God did indeed say “no” to Jesus’ prayer that he not face suffering on the cross (Matthew 26:36-46).
This really shouldn’t surprise us. God is the perfect Father. I’m by no means a perfect father, but I find myself telling my 1-year old daughter “no” about 100 times a day! “No, don’t chew on the computer charger.” “No, you can’t have another Hersey Kiss.” “No, you can’t have sweet tea instead of milk.” “No, you can’t climb the fireplace.” Does telling her “no” make me a mean father? Of course not! It makes me a loving father who knows what is best for her.
As you evaluate your prayer life, first ask yourself if you are leaving God room to be your perfect Father and say “no.” If not, begin to pray like Jesus, asking for God’s will to be done – not your will to be done! Then if you feel God is saying “no” to something you ask, remember that He is the perfect Father looking out for what is best for you…even when it doesn’t look like it on this side of eternity!