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When God says 'No' to your prayers - #1

For three days now I have been obsessing about something . . . thinking, praying, lying awake, listening to sermons and reading Scripture around one topic: when God seems to have turned a deaf ear to our prayers. On doubting the value of prayer, I am pretty sure I have heard it all over the years. ‘I pray and pray, still nothing changes. I’m not sure God is even hearing me.’ ‘Seems like he hears other people’s prayers, just not mine.’ ‘I prayed…they prayed…she died anyway—not certain God really cares.’ As for me, there are several requests I have been carrying to God daily, for years, yet do not see any change or any movement. It neither causes me to doubt him nor discourages me from asking, even when my heart aches. It’s tempting to believe the lie that a yes from God confirms his blessing, while a no is a form of punishment or heavenly disapproval.1True? Hmmm. Four months ago, I invited you to join me in praying big, desperate prayers for 28-year-old Rachelle battling a terminal cancer in Southern California. Many around the world pounded the doors of Heaven asking God to mercifully, miraculously heal her. At midnight, Friday morning, Rachelle drew her last breath on earth. The questions: How could God let her die? Did he not hear our prayers? Does God not see the injustice in a beautiful young soul dying a tragic, painful death? Tortured questions, but not beyond God’s scope. Move in a little closer. What do I believe about these things . . . about God? I take God at his Word. I believe him. He said, ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’2 So yes, God answers prayer. But sometimes his answer is ‘No.’ Sometimes his answer is ‘Not yet.’ And of course, we have no questions when he says ‘Yes.’ He has his reasons for doing and permitting what he does—that is all I know. God is who he said he was: Good. Faithful. Powerful. Present. Merciful. Compassionate. All-knowing. Personal. He exhibits all of these throughout the pages of Scripture in both Old and New Testaments, even while saying ‘no’ to some of the guys on his own team, so to speak. Take God’s Most Valuable Player, Paul. Paul had some sickness (unspecified in Scripture) that he asked God to heal; God said No. Check it out: Paul wrote, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 3 All his adult life, Paul wanted to get to Rome. He wanted to preach the gospel [MVP, God’s team, remember?] He finally got there, but he was imprisoned! God…seriously? Turns out he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon while sidelined. Hmmm . . . Purpose in the 'no'? Clearly. God has his reasons why he does what he does and why he permits what he does. God is good. God does good. He is always at work. He will never leave us alone. He graciously gave us his words to stand upon: The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”4 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”5 So why not receive from Jesus what he has graciously offered? Come to me all who are weary and burdered, and I will give you rest.6 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.7 This is just the first in this discussion about when God says 'no'. We will be looking at what should I say to other people when God says no'? What should our posture be, keeping it real and yet keeping the faith?? All I know is it makes me turn and run to him in my pain - "God I Look to You" Prayerfully and in faith, Christine

1 – Melissa Kruger, 2 - Jeremiah 33.3 3 – 2 Corinthians 12.8-9a 4 – Deuteronomy 31.8 5 – Psalm 91.2 6 - Matthew 11.28 7 - John 14.27

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