I have two children whom I love dearly. I would do almost anything for them. I know in my heart that if needed I would lay my life on the line to protect them.  Yet over the years, there have been numerous times that I have said no to their requests.

In most of those cases, they were asking for something that I knew was ultimately not good for them.  Sometimes it broke my heart to say no to them. But as their father, I knew what was best for them in the larger scheme of things.

We have a phrase for children who are given everything that they ask for–spoiled brats.

You’ve met them, I know.  They are obnoxious and arrogant, and not grateful for anything because they had everything handed to them on a silver platter.

I’m sure that you also know some of the adult manifestations of that kind of irresponsible parenting.  Those obnoxious and arrogant children became obnoxious and arrogant adults who expected the world to continue to cater to their every whim just like Mommy and Daddy did.

So it is with God.  God knows our needs, and He also sees the “big picture” that you and I cannot see from our limited finite human perspective.  Just as we know when to say no to our children whom we love, God knows when to say no to us.

Now I realize there is a school of thought in the Body of Christ today that holds to the opinion that when we pray in faith, that God always answers in the affirmative.  Some of those who hold to this belief are good friends of mine. Some of them are people who I greatly respect.  But I respectfully differ with them in this area.

Looking back on my life, I can tell you time after time after time when I earnestly prayed for a certain outcome that now, with the blessing of hindsight I realize was not best for me.  There was a ministry position that I was absolutely convinced God was leading me to.  When God closed that door–actually “slammed” would be a better description–I was heartbroken and dejected.  Months later I found out that the position I thought was so ideal was actually a horrible situation where there was serious sin in the camp.  Had God given me what I begged Him for in that instance, I would have been in the middle of a colossal mess.

I am certain that if you reflect back on your life, you can relate similar circumstances in your life. Maybe it was a boyfriend or girlfriend that you just knew they were “The One” but after God closed that door you realized in hindsight they weren’t. Maybe it was a house or some other material possession that you asked God for and after He said no you realized that once again He knew best.

We once just knew that God had led us to a certain house.  We even walked around it and prayed, thanking God for leading us to this house and laying claim to it in the spiritual realm.  Two days later the house got sold out from under us.  Again, we were dejected and felt like God ignored us.  He didn’t ignore us.  He just said no.  Just three months later God clearly opened the door for us to follow Him in obedience to another area of ministry in another state.  If we had bought the house we had our hearts set on, we would have been entangled in that and it would have been difficult to go where God was sending us.  God knew that, so He said no.

I believe that every word of the Bible is there for a reason. I am convinced that God gave us the glimpse into the heart of Jesus as He prayed in the Garden as a model prayer for us.  Basically, Jesus told His Father, “Here’s what I want, but more than that, I want what You want. I want Your will to be done.”

There have been many times in my life that God answered our prayers in an unmistakable way.  I am so thankful for those times, for they have strengthened my faith.  But I am equally thankful for the times when God said no.

Because my Father knows best.

by Alan Riley

14 Responses to When God Says No

  1. Troy Reeves says:

    This is just what I needed to read this morning. I have come to understand now that God is more interested in shaping our characters than giving us what we ask for in prayer. He may very well say “yes” to us, but if He can still meet our needs and honor our faith, PLUS shape our character and teach us more about how to fall in love with Him and trust Him completely, THAT is likely the route He will take.

    Paul encourages us to understand how to be content in all things, in times of plenty and in times of lack. Even here, especially when the Lord says, “No” or “Not yet” this becomes an opportunity to remain content in our situation and trust Him even more, knowing that He is not slack concerning His promises. His timing is perfect. God is seldom early, but He is never late. My impatience or whining about “why God?” is a useless avenue. Instead of asking “Why?” I should instead start asking, “What?” What would you have me do right now in the middle of this trial, this setback, or this apparently unanswered prayer?

    Thank you for sharing this Alan. I can see how your words have encouraged others already. I am one of them now too.



  2. Mechelle says:

    If God had granted me all the desires of my heart, I certainly would not be where I am today. I look back over the years and thank God that although painful, and sometimes fighting all the way, I gave up my will for His will. God is faithful.

  3. udochukwu agharanya says:

    When God is silent , it may also be an indication that He is saying no to our request. As good children we should learn to accept his decisions as best for US. Remain bless.

  4. Willahar Mahecha says:

    Wonderful. it is not an easy task .waiting an answer from our heavenly father and finally He Said no .tk

  5. George Chilufya says:

    Thanks bro for the insight. I 100% relate to the experiences you have highlighted though in different avenues. And when you understand God’s no you begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22.

  6. Oabona says:

    “Here’s what I want, but more than that, I want what You want. I want Your will to be done.” Thank you Lord

  7. Nubia Figueroa says:

    It is a beautiful message. It is something that I have learned in my life, sometimes it has not been easy to accept and understand the voice of the Lord but when we hear his voice and we do not obey his voice the consequences of our actions are really hard for us and our family.

    He love us , and He forgive us but the consequences of our mistakes can not be avoided.

  8. LYNDA says:

    Indeed GOD knows best. A very wonderful and inspiring message. Keep up the good work!!!

  9. jackie says:

    God doesn’t raise spoiled brats. He raises grateful believers. I thank Him & praise Him for all the times He said no. I just wish I had been a more obedient child & not have gone against His perfect, all- knowing will. I would have saved me some major heartaches and letdowns. Thank You, Father.

  10. Lydia Nhari says:

    A very helpful testimony to all generations. Amen be blessed and always stay in God’s grace.

  11. Maureen says:

    Dear Mr. Riley,

    Thank you so very very much for writing this beautiful article. I totally agree with you that God only gives us what HE knows is best for us. This article really spoke to my heart so deeply. Thank you again. May God continue to lead and bless you, your family & your Ministry.

    Your sister in Christ Jesus,

  12. Shweta says:

    Wow !! Perfect ! Made my day and also I got answers to what I was praying about. Thank you Alan. God bless you and your ministry .

  13. karen says:

    This was lovely. I needed this precisely NOW in my life and Abba, Father, knew it!

  14. Charmaine says:

    Thanks! Beautiful and true.

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