I’m a firm believer in prayer. I believe that God hears and answers all the prayers of those who are faithful to Him (Psalm 4:3, Proverbs 15:29, James 5:16). Sometimes He says, “Yes.” Sometimes He says, “No.” And sometimes He says, “Not yet.” Sometimes we don’t like His answer or we just don’t hear or see it because it’s not what we expected. Rest assured though, He does hear us and He does answer us. And His answers are always right!
There are times for us believers when it seems like all God says to us is, “No.” And if we are not spiritually mature we respond like small children. We get resentful or even mad and have what I like to call a “spiritual temper tantrum.” We do this because what we are praying for is what we want and not what is actually best for us (James 4:3). And when God doesn’t “behave” or cave in like an indulgent parent and spoil us, we get mad at Him. How dangerous this can be for us spiritually!
The fact is, if we are sincere Believers, God is going to look out for our best interest. However, since His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and since we as humans only see through a glass dimly not seeing the whole picture (1 Corinthians 13:12), very often God answers our prayers with a resounding, “No.” He must do this because what we want (or think we want) is not best for us.
God sees what is best for us in spiritual terms, not physical, emotional, or financial ones. God promises us an abundant life and this doesn’t necessarily mean health, wealth, and ease (John 10:10). In fact,He looks out for us and puts us in places and situations that will help us to continually develop our spiritual character and that allows for us to continue to transform into the very image of Christ His Son (Philippians 4:11-13, Romans 5:3-5). This means that we are not going to get what we want if those things are only beneficial from a sensual point of view. How hard it is for us to accept this at times!
Back in late summer of 1989 Neal and I were living in beautiful Los Gatos, CA. I was very, very happy there. I just loved California’s Bay Area! We had no desire to move and made no sincere effort to move from our cozy little neighborhood, even when our closest friends, the neighbors next door and our neighbors across the street, moved out the month or so before. The house next door remained empty as did the house across the street, but that was okay. New neighbors would move in eventually.
Neal lost a new job he had taken and started looking for yet another a new one. Our first child Rachel was just a couple of months old and I had no real job skills. With her health problems I needed to be home with her anyhow. So we were literally dependent upon Neal finding a good job so we could survive financially in this area that even back then had a very high cost of living. However, nothing was popping for him. His only job prospect would require us to move to Portland, Oregon. A prospect I loathed, not liking the idea of leaving Northern California, especially to go to an area where it rained even more!
Eventually our financial situation dictated he take the job up in Oregon, or we move in with family much further south or out of state to the east where we couldn't be sure there would be jobs for either of us. I prayed incessantly for a miracle. I prayed to God that He would plop a job opportunity into Neal’s lap so we could stay in lovely Los Gatos, CA in our cozy little neighborhood. However, it was not to be. And so in late September of 1989 I found myself driving up to rainy Portland, Oregon very upset with God.
A mere three weeks later Santa Cruz was the epicenter of a 6.9 magnitude earthquake. This was the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. 63 people were killed. 3,757 people were injured. Due to the miraculous timing of the quake (the 1989 World Series that included BOTH Bay Area baseball teams was in progress and nearly everyone had left work early that day to watch the game) there were far less injuries and deaths than otherwise might have occurred on any other day at that time.
Interestingly enough, my little street was still a ghost town as well. Both sides of the duplex my husband and I had previously lived in was still empty as was the house across the street. No new occupants had been found after all three families had moved the month or two previously. And this was a good thing for I was to find out from my friend and former neighbor that all three homes sustained significant damage. She told me in a letter about a month afterward that she had driven by the old neighborhood to check things out and that what she saw left her with no doubt in her mind that had we all still been living there, “...someone would have gotten hurt or worse.” Thank God that He had the good sense to not answer my prayer with a, “Yes.”
After that I learned to not get mad if God didn’t always say, “Yes.” However, I would often still question Him, “Why? I just want to know why.” These days though, as I look over the sum of my life, I don’t even do that. That’s because I know why. God has put my family and me in a very good place, at least from a spiritual point of view, with the way He has answered our prayers (Romans 8:25-28). There were times when things were rough, very rough even, but all in all, we are who we are and where we are in regards to our relationship with God due to God’s will being done and not mine. And so I no longer need to question Him. I finally trust that God will take care of us spiritually and make sure we’re in the best place or position to ensure He gets glory through our lives.
That may not mean the best job, or possessions, or neighborhood, or situations from a worldly point of view. However, from God’s point of view it always is the “best.” I trust this. So now when I pray I recite this line from the Lord’s Prayer towards the end of my personal prayers every time: “YOUR will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”(Matthew 6:10). I have finally learned to pray for God’s will in all situations and not my own (Matthew 26:39). I have finally learned to pray for what is best and right for myself, my family, or whomever or whatever I’m praying for (Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6). Yes, I’ve finally learned that what I want (or think I want) is not always what is best or what I need. Only God knows what is best for myself and everyone in my life. So I trust Him to ensure that what takes place in my life and in the lives of those around me is what is best.
Sure I still pray for specific things, I just add this addendum, “If that is what is best for everyone involved and will glorify You. Amen.” (2 Thessalonians 1:12). It really works. God does answer. We just need to trust Him, listen to Him, and accept His will for our lives whether or not we always understand His answer. Once we do this we will find God’s answers will change to “Yes.” more often because what we are praying for and the way we are praying for it has changed: "Not my will Lord, but Yours. Amen!"
God bless you and keep you!