Have you ever bargained with God? Have you ever told Him exactly why YOU think that the answer to a certain prayer should be yes? Have you spent countless amounts of time praying for something only to receive a big, fat, NO in the end?
Well, that happened to me this summer. I have been praying for this one specific thing for quite some time; I would guess close to a year. It’s been heavy on my heart and it’s deeply affected my attitude on the daily throughout this entire year. I’ve prayed. My husband has prayed. My best friend. My mom. Even my mother-in-law. It’s been a long year of prayer to say the least.
Want to know what all that prayer got me?
It got me a really hard-to-hear NO from God.
But, I learned something really important that has completely changed my attitude in recent weeks. And, if you feel like you have received a no from God, then I want to share this with you in hopes of opening your eyes to the bigger picture and the positive side of no.
- I Do Not Know What Is Best For Me
As much as I hate to admit it, what I think is best for my life is hardly ever what is truly best. In fact, most of the time I am down-right WRONG.
During this year of what has felt like constant prayer, I have done a lot of bargaining with God and trying to convince Him of why my way is best. I can’t tell you how many times I have literally prayed the words “I know this would be good for me because….”
Like I have ever been right about that before! And here I am trying to tell the Creator why THIS time I believe I’m right. Though time and time again He has proven that His will is always better than my own.
Friend, let me save you a little time and trouble here….
YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU.
You may know what would be good for you. And you certainly know what you want and what you think would positively impact your life. But when it comes to what is absolutely and truly BEST….well, that is up to God. Because of His all-knowing nature, He can truly determine what will produce the best possibly outcome for you and the ultimate plan He has for your life.
I know that sounds really preachy. I even hate hearing it myself. But, it’s the truth that has been revealed to me through this season of praying and hoping. You see, my husband and I have this motto, if you will. No matter what we do or where we go, we just want to make sure we are in God’s will. And, throughout our entire relationship, it has brought us nothing but goodness.
Yet, still I find myself wanting to argue my own will and have my own way.
Thankfully, God in His mercy doesn’t always allow me to have my way. When I think of all the times He has said no in the past I sigh in pure relief — so many blessings I would have missed out on if He had answered yes when I wanted Him to.
I know feeling like God is saying no or just isn’t answering your prayer at all can feel like the most painful rejection ever, but I promise that He always has a good reason. And that reason is this: His will is always better. ALWAYS. Even when it seems that what you’re praying for cannot possibly have a better alternative, I promise that what He has in-store for you will far exceed what you have in-store for yourself.
2. Sometimes NO Means NOT NOW.
The thing I have been praying about all year almost received a yes this summer. At least, it seemed that way at first. Everything was lining up. It all made sense. The timing was perfect. It all seemed even better than what I had actually been praying for. But then,…silence.
It all stopped and it felt like my prayer got a big fat NO stamp on it just when I thought the yes was finally coming my way. I was heartbroken. I spent many nights crying in bed while my husband tried to comfort me. He said everything he could think to say in attempt to help me see the positive side of the situation. But, all I did was continually ask why.
WHY wouldn’t He give me this? It seemed so perfect.
WHY would He let me believe it was going to happen and then take it away?
WHY doesn’t He want me to have this?
And then, finally, David said something that finally made sense to me.
“Sometimes what you perceive as a NO from God is actually a NOT NOW.”
Suddenly, I found myself rising back up to my usual self and little-by-little I stopped questioning Him. I learned to be okay with a simple “not yet” for now.
You see, this particular thing I’ve been praying for has been on my heart for so long. And for the past year it’s been made clear time and time again that some form of this prayer is what God is leading me toward. So when I thought He was saying no I spiraled in confusion. That is, until I finally accepted that God’s timing is perfect and that He will fulfill this promise when He knows the time is right.
Maybe this is true for you as well. There are certainly times when God says to no to what we think is best. But, I also believe that if you have covered a decision in prayer and have felt God’s leading that He will be faithful to finish what He starts….when He knows the timing is absolutely perfect.
Looking at my life right now….it’s actually a really good thing that what I prayed for didn’t happen when I thought it should. I would be weighed down by guilt and chaos and stress at this point in my journey if everything had gone the way I wanted it to. The timing I thought was so perfect turned out to be pretty far from it. Turns out, as we have already discussed, I tend to be wrong more often than I like to admit. So, I invite you to believe with me, friend, that when the timing truly is perfect He will fulfill the desires of our heart.
3. It Isn’t About Me.
Have you ever been so caught up in a prayer that forget that you aren’t the center of the universe. That’s what happened to me this summer — I was so focused on this one thing that I totally forgot how it might impact people around me — my husband, family, coworkers, friends….I was so caught up in how it would change my life for the better that I never considered how it might make the life of many others more complicated. I never considered how it would change how I serve those I care about. Because in those moments of prayer I only had one thing on my mind: MYSELF.
I never set out to be selfish about this. And who ever does? We all think we are being pretty generous and selfless, but if we’re being honest with ourselves….most of our prayers are pretty selfish. We want happiness, security, prosperity, contentment….and we never stop to think that maybe lacking those things isn’t the worst thing that could happen. We forget that we aren’t here to be happy and to prosper….but rather we are here to give of ourselves, sacrifice our own security, and seek to bring true joy to others by shining the light of Christ.
When I sit down and think about all the prayers that I have circling my life…most of them are pretty selfish. Good health, secure financial standing, an enjoyable career, safety….all of these things have one thing in common: my happiness. And as hard as it may be to admit…..that is not what this life is supposed to be about!
I had to ask myself….is receiving a no to this prayer really causing anyone discontentment except for me? Does it majorly impact anyone else but me in a negative way? No, not really. When I think of the time I spent worrying and begging and bargaining over this….I feel sick because all of that prayer could have been devoted to so much more — to something that truly impacts others and makes a difference for The Kingdom.
Dear friend, it is more than okay to pray for the desires of our heart, even if they are mainly about us. But, what is not okay is making those types of prayers our priority. That is what I did, and I truly believe that the no/not now that I have received is a wake up call regarding my selfishness. It’s time that I stop devoting 99% of my prayer life to myself — that isn’t the kind of prayer warrior I want to be!
I don’t know about you, but I want to be the kind of prayer warrior that lifts others up, that prays for the ones that no one prays for, that feels God’s presence in every moment because my entire life is drenched in prayers for others. I want to witness God moving in the lives of the ones I love rather than just in the life I lead. I want to open myself up to all of the possibilities of seeing miracles and lives changed.
So, you might ask: do I still pray for that thing I was so distressed over? Yes, every day. I lift it up every, single, day. But, I do so in a new way. Now, I hand it over to God each day, accepting that His will for this prayer is far better than mine. I try to truly let it go each morning and trust that He will use today to bring me close to that answer I long for. My faith in God’s ability and willingness to answer a prayer hasn’t changed — but my pursuit of that prayer has. I have found an abundance of joy in devoting more time to praying for others — my husband, my family, my dear friends, random people I meet or know of, even my readers (aka: you!). Trust me, that kind of joy is far better than the joy I would have received from having my own prayer answered. That kind of joy is irreplaceable.