Would you like to know the ancient secret from the Bible that will always cause God to grant you your prayer request?
Do you think I would have any takers for a seminar on the subject? I believe it would be very popular with the general public. The only problem is… there's no such secret.
I want to challenge those of us who know better, but had a brief moment of wishful thinking—that such a secret might exist. Don't we approach God as if we'd just returned from such a seminar—ready to persuade Him to agree with us? Just like children, don't we make the same request a hundred different ways—hoping one of them will get the job done?
What person does not want God to answer his or her prayer just like it was prayed—just like he or she asked? What person does not want to hear God always answer with a yes, instead of a no?
Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 NKJV)
I think our initial response to this verse is very telling. Let me just tell on me:
“The first half of this verse exists so I can get the second half. If I can just delight in God, then I can have the desires of my heart. Maybe I can have my own desires, or maybe He will replace some of my desires (those that could be harmful) with His desires—but either way, I get the desires of my heart by delighting in Him.”
But I am totally missing the goodness of God with this kind of response. Let me elaborate:
When I was a child it was in my nature to want the desires of my heart. If my desires would have been completely in line with Mom's and Dad's then I would have never heard a “No!” But that was not the case.
I knew some of my desires, though appealing, were wrong—like running over my obnoxious California cousin with a tractor. And I knew better than to even ask about some of my desires—like talking that same cousin into peeing on an electric fence (which, on my own, I went ahead and talked him into doing).
But most of my desires were legitimate requests that I thought deserved a “Yes!” “Can I have a real horse instead of a donkey?” “Can I have a BB gun?” “Can I drive the tractor by myself?” Dad's perspective however, was different than mine. I wasn't thinking about my welfare, but he was. I was thinking about what I wanted; he was thinking about me.
I didn't go to Dad and ask, “Do you think I'm ready to have a real horse instead of that donkey?” I didn't go to Dad and ask, “Do you think I'm responsible enough to have a BB gun?” I didn't go to Dad and ask, “Do you think I'm big enough to drive the tractor by myself?” I wasn't interested in what Dad thought. I just wanted him to give me the desires of my heart. I wasn't interested in hearing what he had to say. I was only interested in persuading him to do what I asked.
But this is childishness and it's time to put away childish things (see 1 Corinthians 13:11).
As we begin to understand the goodness of God we will begin to be just as pleased with His “No” as we are with His “Yes.” We will not care so much how He answers our request, but that He does answer our request—however He wants.
Miriam and Aaron made a statement against Moses' authority that, left unchecked, would have threatened the stability of the Israelites: “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Hasn't he spoken through us, too (Numbers 12:2a NLT)?” The Lord dealt with this insubordination swiftly and harshly, by giving Miriam a case of leprosy.
So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” Then the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received [again].” So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in [again]. (Numbers 12:13–15 NKJV)
The Lord basically said, “No… not for seven days” as a form of discipline for all the Israelites to see. We however,looking back on this story, cry, "Unfair!" Why did Aaron get off the hook? I'm sure many people have accused God of being a male chauvinist. But God was looking at the situation with everyone's welfare in mind—including Miriam's. We can speculate, e.g., maybe Aaron was disciplined at a later time, but it couldn't have been with leprosy because the high priest was never allowed to become unclean. But we don't know.
What we do know is that nothing was taken away from Moses, Miriam, or Aaron. God's “No” only applied for seven days. Aaron was still the high priest. Miriam was healed of leprosy. And at a later time, God showed honor to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (see Micah 6:4). What was so bad about God's “No”?
David was feeling guilty about living in a house of cedar when the ark of God was housed in a tent. David decided to take it upon himself to build a dwelling place for God, but God said, “No!” (See 2 Samuel 7:1–13.)
David rose to his feet and said: “My brothers and my
It was my desire to build a temple where the Ark of the LORD's Covenant,
footstool, could rest permanently. I made the necessary preparations for
building it, but God said to me, ‘You must not build a temple to honor my
for you are a warrior and have shed much blood.’ (1 Chronicles 28:2–3
He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon will build my Temple and its courtyards, for I have chosen him as my son, and I will be his father.’” (1 Chronicles 28:6 NLT)
He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor. (1 Chronicles 29:28a NLT)
God said “No” to David's request but He didn't say “No” to the project. David's son would complete the project. And David lived to a ripe old age, enjoying long life, wealth, and honor. As David might say to us: “God did not really take anything away from me with His ‘No!’”
I encourage you to desire God's presence, more than His stuff. I encourage you to delight yourself in Him, wanting nothing in return. As you do so, you will no longer dread His “No.” You will begin to cherish His “No” just as much as you do His “Yes.”
He has your back (and your front and your side). And He's not going to put you on something you're not ready to ride. That's a big “Thank you!”
Have a good day,