Sometimes when we pray, it feels like Heaven is silent and our prayers don’t even reach the ceiling. Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened to me before…lots of times.
But this seems so counter, blatantly opposite of Mark 11:24 which says, “Therefore I (Jesus) tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
When we pray for something and get an obvious NO, we may think it’s because we’re sinning. While that is the case at times, there are others times when we have confessed and repented and the answer is still NO.
Why, at times, does God give us a firm “NO”?
Maybe it’s because we are craving the “gift” more than the “Giver”. You see, God knows our hearts. He knows our intentions. If our intention is the use the gift for ourselves rather than to give Him glory, He may answer “no” to a seemingly good thing. Our God is a jealous God. He, and He alone, demands and deserves our loyalty. If you’re getting “no” for an answer, you may need to reevaluate your motives, your reason why you’re asking. Our priorities need to be straight.
Maybe God is telling us “no” to teach us to trust Him more. If God always gave us everything we asked for, regardless of our attitude, we would probably take Him for granted. I know I would. Psalm 13 starts with David asking “How long will You forget me?” when he wasn’t getting an agreeable answer from God. But Psalm 13 ends with David proclaiming “But I have trusted in Your mercy”. God won’t be taken for granted. He wants us to focus on Him. He wants to see if you really, truly trust Him. He wants us to be persistent in our asking.
God may be telling you “no” as part of His process of weaving our lives. He may be waiting for you to grow spiritually. You may not be able to handle that “yes” right now, so He’s saying “no” and asking you to wait while you mature. After you have matured in your faith, then He’ll give you a “YES!”.
I wonder if God tells us “no” because He wants to give us something better than what we’re asking for. Do you ever ask God for too little? He’ll say “no” because He’s BIG and wants to give you BIG things. Take Mary and Martha for example in John 11. They wanted Jesus to come and heal their brother, Lazarus. But Jesus didn’t want to just simply heal him like He had so many other people. He had BIG plans in mind…to resurrect Lazarus. What BIG things does God want you to ask for so He’s saying “no” to the little things?
Why are there times when God refuses to hear us?
There could be unresolved conflict in the home. Look at 1 Peter 3:7. If we can’t get along with people in our house, how can we expect God to hear us when we pray? Perhaps we have an unforgiving spirit. In Mark 11:25-26, Jesus tell us that we have to forgive others if we want to be forgiving. We can’t be right with God if we’re not right with each other. But that goes both ways…we can’t be right with others if we’re not right with God. You must forgive others if you want to be heard by God, whether or not the other person asks for or deserves your forgiveness.
God may refuse to hear you if you’re praying with the wrong motives. James 4:3 tells us that. In James 1:6-7, we also see that God may refuse to hear our prayers if they are faithless. We have to pray WITH NO DOUBTING! Another reason God refuses to hear us if if we are indffierent to His Word (see Proverbs 28:9). A closed Bible equals a closed Heaven. God won’t hear our prayers if we’re not hearing from Him by reading/studying His Word. If we’re being selfish or stingy with what God has given us, He will refuse to hear our prayers (see Proverbs 21:16). Above all, if we have unconfessed sins, God may refuse to hear our prayers. That’s why it’s so important to pray daily and confess our sins to Him.
Maybe it seems like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. Maybe it seems like you should be hearing an obvious “YES” but you’re only getting a resounding “NO”. If that’s the case, take a look at these areas and see if God isn’t trying to speak to you now. With a few changes, you could be hearing a whole new answer.