I was on my way home when my cell phone rang.
“Hi, Mom. It’s Kennedy. Where are you?”
“Hey, baby! I’ll be home in just a few minutes. What’s up?”
“Well, I wanted to see if you and I could go shopping for a new bathing suit this afternoon, and— don’t say no —I’d like to get a feather in my hair. Can we, Mom?”
Don’t say no? Really? I’m the parent. You’re the child. C’mon girl.
“Honey, you’re free to tell me if you want something, but you don’t get to tell me what I can and can’t say no to. I’m pulling into the neighborhood and will see you in a minute.”
Later, as I considered the way my daughter positioned her request my heart was convicted. How often do I approach God with a request wrapped up in a demand that He not tell me no?
Jesus told His disciples they could ask for anything. He even said that when we ask in His name, what we ask for will be given to us (John 14:12-14). Now, when Jesus said, “You may ask me for anything,” it wasn’t an open invitation for the will of man to reign. It was an invitation for man to participate in the will of God through prayer. It was about us asking for things that will bring glory to God the Father. Asking “in my name” is all about the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven – not the whim of mankind.
Is God obligated to answer our prayers the way we want Him to? No, He’s not.
Does God want you to have a million-dollar home and drive a Lexus? Not sure.
Does God want you to be healed of that diagnoses, disease, or physical challenge? Possibly.
Is He able? Yes.
I don’t know His exact plan for your life, but what I do know is this: God is a good and faithful God. “The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast forever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness” (Psalm 111:7-8).
When it comes to God’s character, faithfulness doesn’t mean that He will always come through for us in the way we expect. It means He will see His plans through to completion, that He will keep His promises, that He will continue to work in our lives for our ultimate good – not necessarily our immediate happiness.
If we think that God can’t say no to us, then we’ve put ourselves on the throne and not God.
Prayer is not about getting God to do what we want Him to do; it is about releasing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). It doesn’t change His mind and He’s not a genie in a bottle whose wish is our command. God is God—and He is faithful, no matter which way He moves.
I really love my daughter. But just because she asks me for something doesn’t mean I’m going to grant her request. I love her too much for that. God is our heavenly Father. Our parent. He wants mature, wise children. Not spoiled children. He loves us too much for that.
He even told His own Son “no” in order to accomplish His great purposes. “On the night He was betrayed, Jesus was distraught to the point of sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Crying out to God, He “knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done’” (Luke 22:41-42).
God said no to Jesus because the request of His Son did not line up with His will. And because God said no, you and I can experience grace, forgiveness, peace, and salvation. In order for God to be glorified in His life, Jesus had to submit to the will of the Father. In order for God to be glorified in our lives and our prayers to be powerful, we, too, must submit to the will of the Father—and His will is always what’s best for us because He is faithful.
No matter what you pray for you can trust God, whether His answer is “Yes” or “No.”
Faithful Father, I know that You have a plan for me. Please bind me to Your will and teach me to desire Your heart above all else. Help me to hold unswervingly to the hope that I profess, knowing that You are faithful (Hebrews 10:23). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
Is your tendency for the Lord to answer according to His will or according to yours?
Read and consider the following verse: “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). How does this verse encourage you?