When God Says No

Prayer is a Christian’s lifeline to the God of all creation.

Entering the throne of grace, we find a place where burdens are lifted, praises are sung, and requests are left at His feet with full assurance that He will answer with a yes, no, or wait. 

We rejoice when the answer is yes to our prayers, as it builds our faith and confidence. Hope is present while the answer is wait; however, when the answer is no, devastation and discouragement may be present as we see God’s final answer.

This past year, our family began praying to attend a conference down south. Two weeks before we were to leave, my daughter broke her arm. As we were driving home from the orthopedic doctor, I heard my husband say over speakerphone, “That answers our prayer about heading down south.”  

After we shared the decision with our children, they expressed sadness as the conference was at our previous church, and they would miss visiting with their friends.

Several nights later, upon walking into my daughter’s room, I saw something on her floor next to her garbage can. Realizing it was one of her prayer cards, I picked it up. Scribbled in her writing was “Jubilee Meeting.” She had been praying for the opportunity to go.

My daughter was lying in bed, and our eyes met as I headed toward her. I didn’t need to say anything; I could feel her sadness. She was devastated by the answer of no. God did answer her prayer, but she was hurt. She refused to put the date of the answered prayer on the back of the card and file it away. Instead, she folded it up and tossed it toward the garbage. The card lay in my hand as I sat beside her on the bed. I leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “God’s answer is sometimes no.”

She quietly whispered, “I know.” 

It is one thing to know that God answers no; it’s different when the answer comes directly to you.

What prayer request have you folded up in your mind, only to throw the request away and be done with it, hurt, and never consider it again? Do you trust that God’s answer of no is part of His perfect will for you?

When the answer no comes, here are a few things to consider:  

  1. While praying, were you dependent upon the Lord, trusting and believing that He could answer your prayer?

John 14:13-14; John 15:16; Mark 11:24

  1. Were you persuaded that you did not regard any iniquity in your heart while praying?

Psalm 66:18

  1. While you were praying, did you have complete faith and assurance in the Word of God and His promises, knowing that He is not a liar and will fulfill and do all things He says according to His word?

Hebrews 11:6; Hebrews 6:13-20

  1. While praying, were you asking in accordance with His will?

1 John 5:14; James 4:3; Psalm 37:4

  1. While praying, were you fervently asking with importunity, patiently waiting for an answer, and not going ahead of the Lord?

James 1:4; Luke 18:1-8 

If your answer is no to one or more of these questions, address the issue the Holy Spirit is showing you. Once you have sought the Lord and sought Godly counsel if necessary, bring the request back to the Lord and pray about it again. 

However, if your answer is yes to all the above questions, and the response from the Lord is no, it is time to ask the Lord to help you to accept it. You have done what you could, and it may not be the right time, the right decision, the right plan, the right people, or the right atmosphere. The Lord sees fit to close the door and say no, and you must cling to Isaiah 55:8-9.

God gives us those in the Bible who received no as an answer from the Lord, and we can see their response.

Jesus–Luke 22:42

Jesus prayed and asked the cup to be removed from Him, but God did not remove the cup. Jesus expressed, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV). He loves us so much that He died for us. I am thankful He endured the cross for you and me! Praise the Lord for Jesus and His death and resurrection, paving the way for us to get to Heaven! 


David–2 Samuel 12:15-24

The consequence of David’s sin with Bathsheba was that the Lord struck his child with sickness (vs.15). David prayed that his son would be healed. God said no. When David accepted the answer that his son was dead, he changed his apparel and came into the house of the Lord and worshipped Him. David’s servants questioned him and his behavior, yet he accepted God’s answer, as stated in verse 23. He recognized that he could not bring his son back from the dead and that the answer was final. David had a choice to go into self-pity and remorse or to worship the Lord. He chose to go and worship the Lord (vs. 20). Do you worship the Lord like David did when you receive the answer of no?

Paul–Acts 16:6-10

Paul thought he was to preach the word in Asia and Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit told him no. Paul accepted the answer and didn’t push it. He didn’t try to slip in just one preaching service and believe God would bless it. He did not go but waited to see where the Spirit of God would lead him. When you receive the answer no to your prayer, do you still try to push your agenda? Or do you leave it entirely and trust the Lord has something else for you?

Paul–2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Paul desired for the thorn in his flesh to go away. He prayed fervently for it, yet the Lord told him no. Paul chose gladly to glory in his infirmities. Why? So that the power of Christ would rest upon him. Sometimes we pray for God to give us things, and He says no. Other times we pray to God that He would remove items from our lives, like Paul did. What is the “thorn in your flesh” that is keeping you humble before the Lord? Can you say as Paul said, “When I am weak, then am I strong”? Paul was not strong in self, but strong in the Lord and claiming His grace is sufficient.

When God says no to our prayers, it hurts us to see our plans, dreams, desires, and aspirations fade away as a summer sunset–something we thought of as beautiful and hopeful, only to slip away into the night sky. When He says no, it is for our best and His glory. If God has said no to one of your requests, thank Him for His sovereignty and knowledge to know what is best for you and ask Him to help you accept it. In His answer of no, He may have something more beautiful for you coming around the corner! God never changes, and He never makes mistakes.

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About Kate Hub

Kate lives in rural NW Ohio with her husband Daniel, three children and several cats, which is necessary to keep the mice population in check. God has kept them on the move ministering wherever He has led them, from inner city Minneapolis, eastern Ohio, the deep south in the U.S., to their current position. Daniel has served as an Assistant Pastor for 14 years, while just recently celebrating 4 years as a Senior Pastor. Kate is passionate in teaching her three children, the ladies at the church, and those who attend her ASL classes. She enjoys writing to her heart’s content with a cup of tea, and dark chocolate.

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