Don't Stop at "No" In Prayer
In prayer, don't stop at God's "No." Press on toward His "Yes."
Have you ever asked God for something over and over again, but get no answer? At what point do you stop asking?
If your momma was like my momma, she used this phrase, "I'm only going to say this once, and I'm not going to say it again, . . . ." That mentality works well for mommas, but it doesn't work for prayer. Jesus taught us that we should be persistent in prayer. Keep on asking, seeking, and knocking (Matthew 7:7).
Despite the importance of persistence in prayer, it is discouraging when it seems we repeatedly get God's "No." But that's a mistake. Don't stop at God's "No." Press on in prayer until you get God's "Yes."
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul shares that God's "No" in prayer became Paul's greatest "Yes."
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Paul never tells us what his thorn was. Was it a physical ailment? Maybe it was a person that made life difficult or perhaps a personal lack of talent. We don't know. He only describes it as "a messenger of Satan to harass me." A man who got a vision of Heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-6) spent a lot of his life dealing with something from Hell.
Understandably Paul pleads with The Almighty to remove it. Not once. Not twice. But three times. And Paul gets God's "No."
God Makes No Sense
Sometimes God's "No" makes no sense. God called Paul to plant churches. He had dedicated his life to going into dangerous places. How could a messenger from Satan possibly be advantageous to this? I'm sure in Paul's mind, he had a lot of good reasons as to why God needed to remove the messenger.
- It makes life hard.
- It is distracting.
- This is painful.
- Some days I feel awful.
- I could go farther, faster, and do better without it.
And you probably have your laundry list of reasons why God needs to give you a "Yes" on your request.
But that's our problem in prayer. God always has a "Yes." We miss it because we stop at "No."
So in Paul's mind, getting rid of the messenger of Satan made sense. But in God's economy, Paul's witness in dangerous places would not be as powerful by sharing his vision of Heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-6) as it would be in showing them God helps him to deal daily with Hell (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
The pinnacle of Paul's experience with God was not the vision, it was the daily experience of God's perfect power.
In our minds, we cannot imagine why God would refuse our requests repeatedly! But when God gives you a "No", remember there is a perfect "Yes."
Read Luke 11:1-13.
- List the commands in the passage.
- What does this passage teach about prayer?
- How does this passage inspire us to praise God?
If you don't have one already, create a paper prayer list. Having a prayer list on paper encourages persistence. It helps us to "track" our prayers and God's answers. Use the list for at least 30 days and see how it changes your prayer life.
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