During difficult seasons in our lives, it can appear as though God isn’t listening to our prayers. Maybe it’s because our prayers aren’t in line with His will, or maybe we just can’t accept that He’s saying no to us.
James 4:2b-3a says, “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives....” How should we respond when we’re struggling with God’s answers to our prayers?
Not too long ago, my mom and dad arrived in India for ministry. And while Mom was waiting to go through customs, someone stole her wallet and passport. The customs official wouldn’t let her go into India without a passport, and he wouldn’t let her return to Germany either!
Mom and Dad were stuck. So they prayed: “Lord, we need to get out there. Please change that guy’s mind and make him let us go. Amen.” Two minutes later, the official let them in. Their prayer was simple and direct, and that time God said yes. But there was another time when He said no.
On 9/11, my mom was on an international flight to New York. When the planes hit the World Trade Center, I asked her assistant where Mom was. Her assistant only knew that Mom was in the air. I called United Airlines, but they weren’t allowed to tell me.
I was terrified and cried out, “God, keep my mom safe and get her home as quickly as possible!” God answered yes to the first half of my prayer, and no to the second half. He kept her safe, but He diverted her to Newfoundland.
Mom was in Newfoundland for six days, but it was one of the most dynamic weeks of ministry she ever had! Because lots of people were stuck there too, she had one incredible spiritual conversation after another.
You see, when God says no to us when we pray, it can happen for several reasons. But most often He says no because He has a greater purpose in mind for His glory and our good. So trust God with His answers to your prayers and pray continually—even when God has said no in the past.