It is very possible that the Lord may answer some of our prayers by saying “NO.” In His infinite wisdom, the Lord knows what is best for us and He may refuse our requests because it is not in our best interests. It has been said (and I believe it is true), “If the Lord does not give us what we ask for, He will give us something better.”

1 John 5:14-15 tells us, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” What peace this verse gives us. The Lord will answer our prayers “according to His will” and His will is perfect. We are often led by the urgency of our immediate needs. We want our needs met NOW. We want to be healed NOW. We want what we want when we want it. The Lord sees the big picture. He knows all our needs, even those that we are not aware of. He knows what the future holds for us and how today’s events will impact tomorrow.

The Lord speaks rather sternly through James in James 4:1-4, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” We often do not have our desires because we do not ask. We often do not have our desires because we just want to fulfill the lusts of our flesh. When we live carnal lives, we will be guilty of both of these things.

We read in Psalms 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” The word ‘regard’ here means to see or to be aware of. (Several versions translate this word ‘cherish’). If I realize there is sin in my heart, and do not confess that sin, the Lord will not hear me. We are instructed in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If there is sin in our lives and in our hearts, we need to sincerely confess that to the Lord to receive the forgiveness and cleansing that we need to be restored to the Lord.

Let’s read of an event in the life of the Apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul writes, “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.” To keep Paul humble, the Lord gave him a ‘thorn in the flesh’. We are not told what this was, but we do know the Lord sent it to Paul so that he would not “be exalted above measure” because of all the revelations he had received from the Lord. Paul prayed three times, asking the Lord to remove this ailment. The Lord’s answer was NO. He realized that Paul needed this ‘thorn’ so that he would stay humble. He told Paul “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Paul rejoiced in this answer for out of it he learned such a vital lesson: “When I am weak, then am I strong.” Although Paul was an obedient servant, it was not the Lord’s will to heal him, rather He had a lesson for Paul that he must learn through suffering. We do well when making our requests to the Lord to ask, “If it be thy will” when we pray. Certainly, as believers who seek to please and live for the Lord, we want His will in all things. (327.4)