When God says no

Luke 11 is a beautiful text on the essentials of prayer. In it are: a request to learn how to pray, the Lord’s Prayer, bold/brash praying and asking & receiving. There are great words that push us in prayer. Read the important words in Luke 11:1-13.

Yet one difficulty arrises in prayer. What do we do when we don’t receive for what we’ve asked? How do we react when our Father says no. These lead many to a crisis of faith particularly when the difficulties of life painfully zoom in.

How do we understand this tough reality that God sometimes doesn’t answer?

  1. Fully pray the Lord’s Prayer. If we only focus on asking the Lord for things we miss much of prayer. Think of the Lord’s Prayer. It is addressing our Father. It has praise in it (hallowed be thy name). We have a time of yielding our will to his (thy will be done). These are a few of the elements Jesus encourages us in prayer. If we neglect those and only focus on “Give us our daily bread” we will struggle mightily when life swoops in with pain. Learning to praise, repent, yield will mature us in a more complete way.
  2. Gethsemane. Here Jesus models exactly what he teaches us in Luke 11 …pray persistently. In Matthew’s version at the Garden Jesus goes back three times to the Father to ask him if there is a way around the cross. In Luke’s version of the event, we see Jesus’ struggle in persistent prayer. In the midst of these prayers Jesus relinquishes his desires to the Father’s desires. Jesus himself prays, “Thy will be done.”
  3. Pray in His will. The persistent man who bangs on the door of his friend gets what he wants because of his boldness and brashness Jesus tells us. What was that man’s request? Was it something selfish? Nope. He needed food for a guest that had arrived. Later in the Gospel of Luke chapter 18 tells us of the persistent widow who makes her plea to the unjust judge. He eventually gives in and grants her the request. What did she want? She wanted justice, not something extravagant or self-serving. So essentially both these examples Jesus gives us are praying for things within his will, things that are not selfish. 1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. This is where the difficulty arrises for how do we know His will.
  4. Crisis of faith. This is where the hard work comes for us because when we come to an impasse and we cannot get around it, we have choice. We need to wrestle with does God love me/us? Is God really all-powerful? These are no easy task. I can think of one such crisis at the end of my time in Young Life. I had hit the wall in ministry a number of times. I didn’t know if the Lord was going to move. The fact that he had not moved the way I wanted and expected was a crisis for my faith. So I wrestled with God’s no for a season. It was only after he took me out of the situation that I gained his perspective.

…For other resources on prayer see this link on prayer.

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