4 Different Prayer Responses

“God will either give you what you ask, or something far better.”

– Robert Murray McCheyne


When God says no to our prayer requests, sometimes He has something much better for us than what we originally prayed for. Imagine a young child coming to his or her parent and asking for a knife to play with. The parents have enough wisdom to know that’s not safe for the child. Instead of giving the child a knife to play with, they give the child a toy. That is certainly something far better than what the child asked for.

No, Not Yet

We know that God sees the future and knows what lies ahead. Being God, He knows what is best for us. He may decide to wait to give us something better, or He may be waiting for when the time is perfect. Isaiah writes that “they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Since God can see around the blind corners of time, we must trust Him above what we think best because “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12).

What You Ask For

We sometimes don’t know what to even pray for, so the Spirit helps us in knowing how to pray and what to pray for when words fail us, as “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). There is wisdom in knowing what to pray for and what not to pray for, and the Holy Spirit can greatly help us in this.

Something Better

Jesus promised the disciples that “if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7), but this prayer request should naturally be in alignment with the will of God. In praying, we must include God’s will or it’s our will that’s pushed to the forefront. Let God’s will be our goal in prayer because He might give us something better than we ask for.


Solomon wrote, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 16:25). So trust God when He says no because He probably has something better for you than what you originally prayed for. God may be telling us “no, not yet” because the timing of our prayer request isn’t in our best interest right now. God’s Spirit can help us know what to pray for, and God may give us something much better than what we asked for, if it is His will.