– E.M. Bounds
God in His wisdom knows that some things we pray for are not in our best interest. I know a man who went to a casino and prayed that God would allow him to win some big money so that he could share his wealth with the poor. I don’t know he man’s heart, only God does, but apparently God didn’t think it was best for him to win. In fact, he ended up losing a lot of money. God may have seen through this man’s heart and knew that his motive was not to help others, but to help himself. Being rich is not a sin, but pursuing riches at all costs is. Those who have a strong desire to be rich can fall into a lot of temptations, which can cause them to sin (1 Tim 6:9). The correct translation is that the pursuit or love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim 6:10). Money is not at the root of all evil, but the pursuit of money is at the root of all types of evil, so God in His wisdom knows when to say no. He isn’t saying no to keep blessings from us, but He says, “No, don’t hurt yourself.” I don’t have enough wisdom to always know what’s best for me, so praying for God’s will is always best.
No, Not Yet; I Have Something Better
When I was being called by God into the ministry, there were no open doors yet, so I tried to kick the door open on my own. Not a good decision because all I got was a bruised foot and a damaged ego. Only God can open doors that no one can, but He also closes doors that none can open (Rev 3:8). God was answering the fire within me to preach (Jer 20:9), but He was saying, “Not yet.” God’s sovereign timing is always perfect. Mine? Not so much. I should have waited upon God. If I had been patient, I would have saved myself some pain and embarrassment. I have learned the hard way from experience that “no” may not be the final answer. It might well be “yes, but not yet” or “no, not that; I have something better for you.”
Yes, but Wait
God will sometimes make us wait, even if the answer is yes. Maybe He is testing our faith to see if we trust Him enough. Perhaps He wants us to continue in prayer to see how important it really is to us, like in the Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8). I don’t know, and I surely can’t answer that in your case. Some of the greatest lessons I have learned from God is to be patient and wait upon Him. If we trust in God, He will give us strength to wait (Isaiah 40:31), but we must be still in His presence, trusting Him (Psalm 37:7), and wait in patience (Psalm 40:1), but it takes courage to do that (Psalm 27:14). It is true that we sometimes fail to get answers to our prayers because we do not wait long enough and then give up. I wonder how many of us give up on praying for something or someone when we were “just that close” to having our prayer answered.
God knows when it’s best to say “no,” “yes, but not yet,” or “yes, but just wait a bit longer for My timing.” Am I going to trust Him enough to wait patiently upon Him and wait for His perfect timing, or am I going to try to kick a door open that only God Himself can open? I believe it all depends upon how much we believe in God and trust Him. He is most certainly trustworthy, but, me, I don’t know enough about those things that are unseen to be smart enough to know when to wait or stop asking altogether. What about you?