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Thankfully, the Lord does say ‘No’ to us at times.  How blessed it is to know that the Lord answers our prayers according to His own perfect will and plan.  Let’s consider one prayer in the scriptures where the Lord said “No.”  The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

While we are not told specifically what this thorn in the flesh was that was given to Paul, we can see that it came upon him from the mercy of God.  Because of all the revelations that were given to Paul, the Lord understood that, as a man, there would be a tendency for Paul to become proud.  The Lord, in His infinite wisdom and loving concern, allowed this difficulty to come upon Paul.  The Apostle prayed three times, asking the Lord to take this thorn from him.  Perhaps the Lord was silent for the first two times that Paul prayed, but with the third prayer, Paul received his answer: No.  No, the Lord would not take away this malady from Paul; in fact there was a great lesson for him in this.  Through this thorn in the flesh, Paul learned a very valuable lesson.  The Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”  All Paul needed was God’s grace.  Paul learned to rejoice and take pleasure in his infirmities, realizing that when he was weak, and had no confidence in his flesh, he was really strong in the Lord.  Indeed, we should all learn, in a practical sense, this blessed truth.  We have God’s grace.  What more could we possibly need?

So, for Paul’s own good, the Lord said “No” to his prayer.  There are other reasons the Lord may refuse to give us our requests.  Let’s read James 4:3, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  Too often we ask the Lord for things just to make ourselves more comfortable and at ease in the world.  The Lord loves us too much to give to us the things that would draw us closer to the world and further away from Himself.  The Lord has instructed us to forsake all, not to accumulate all.  He has instructed us lay up treasures in Heaven and not on the earth because according to Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Now let’s read 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.”  What a wonderful promise.  If we ask anything that is in accordance with the perfect will of God, He will hear and answer those prayers with a positive, “Yes.”  We also have the promise of the Spirit helping us in our prayers in Romans 8:26 where we read, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

So, let us be very thankful that the Lord does not always give us what we ask Him for.  Let’s be thankful that He answers our prayers when our desires are in accordance with His will.  We read in Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  No matter how the Lord answers our prayers, we should thank Him.  If He does not give us what we ask for, He will give us something better!  He will give us exactly what we need.  (112.2)