Maybe you too have found yourself praying unceasingly...night and day? Maybe you also remember that bracelet that people wore: PUSH (pray until something happens)? Maybe you too “pushed” and “pushed” every day, every night even to the point that when you awoke in your sleep, you were still praying, or “pushing” diligently. Maybe you are left wondering: Is it possible that a loving God may say “no”? In a world in which we expect a quick answer, expect that we will get our way, I rarely hear us talk about the possibility of God saying “no”...and if He does- what then? Does He not love us? Does He not care? But, that's when I reflect on when God said “no,” “no” to His most faithful.David begged God for the life of His child- God said no. 1 Sam 12: 16-18
Peter prayed three times for God to remove his “thorn in the flesh” - God said no. 1 Cor 12: 7- 9Jesus prayed to His Father to let Him escape the torture that was upon Him - God said no. Matthew 26: 39-44
In each of these situations you must admit- “no” was the best answer. David needed to pay for his consequences, Peter might have become too arrogant to continue to preach the word accurately, and well....you know why God said “no” to His Son.I guess part of the motivation for me sharing this thought today is that I have come to wonder--as I listen to prayers in the Lord’s worship assembly and hear people talk-- if we have lost our humble attitude when we pray to the Almighty God of the Universe. The idea that we are allowed to approach Him to offer our supplications and to pour out our hearts is pretty mind-blowing to me. To imagine Him--on His thrown, with His host of angels singing praises to Him while he takes the time to listen to my problems humbles my heart. His lovingkindess, care and mercy for each of us is overwhelming. And yet when we pray I wonder if we really trust the Almighty God’s will for our lives? If we did, wouldn’t we be ok with “no,” just like our Savior was? I mean, what if God had said to Jesus: “yes, I will let this cup pass”? Do you wonder how He would have found a different way to save us? ...but...hummm......no- It had to be a sinless sacrifice, right? (Hebrews 10:1-10)...so, He HAD to answer “no” to our Savior, His son- the man in agony pleading to avoid our punishment- to not let the cup pass. So, “no” had to be the answer....it was the only answer that could save us.
I worry about my younger sisters, young in the faith who may fail because they think of our Father as a “Santa Claus” or “Fairy Godmother” who grants our wishes. I wonder if we have the faith to endure “no.” So, I will continue to pray because my Father wants to know my heart. I will continue to strive to seek His will in my prayer requests, that they will be about fulfilling His will- those who are struggling/ill will recover and return to being good soldiers in His kingdom. But, I will also accept that someone not recovering can be “no” for me, but save the soul of someone else. I will accept when my Father tells me “no” and I will learn to trust that “no” is sometimes just what is needed for His purpose and humble myself to recognize that His purpose is more important than mine, and His grace is all sufficient to live with a “no.”