“God punishes mildly by ignoring our prayers and severely by answering them.” – R.J. Needham
“Prayers not felt by us are seldom heard by God.” – Philip Henry
“God always answers our prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.” – Author Unknown
There is a fine line between meditation and obsession. There have been times however, when I have crossed that line, but with the best of intentions. Whenever I read a passage from the Word of God, I want to make sure that I learn every lesson there is to learn, that I receive all the truth there is to receive, and that I perceive all the wisdom there is to perceive. If I had the choice between doing a cursory reading of the Bible, and crossing the line into obsessing over a certain verse, then I would choose the second option because what one might have missed upon the first reading or the second, or the fifth, he might yet discover in the seventh or eighth reading of the passage.
As much as I tried to get away from the topic of Balaam this morning, my mind continued to wander back to the incident, wherein first God told him not to go to Balak, then God told him to go but became angry because he went. And so, today we will be discussing the dangers of not being able to take no for an answer. I know people like that, I have a friend who will ask the same question albeit slightly altered thirty times hoping to get a different answer than that which I gave him when he first asked the question. Hoping to either whittle down my resolve, or that suddenly in a moment of blinding epiphany I rethink my position entirely, this young man will ask the same question incessantly to the point that I just tune him out.
Children are great at not being able to take no for an answer, and I’ve seen it with both the children in our orphanage as well as my nephew and niece. They want what they want, and they’re pursuit of it is nothing if not enviable. We however, are not children, and if God denies us something, if God says ‘no’ we must be wise enough to understand that we are being denied that thing, that miracle, that breakthrough, for a good and justifiable reason, far beyond our current understanding.
Numbers 22:20-22, “And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, ‘if the men come to call you, rise and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you – that you shall do.’ So Balaam rose in the morning saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab. Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.”
Lest we misunderstand God, before all this, Balaam had once before inquired of God if he could go with Balak’s princes and God had given him a direct and purposeful answer. God had said no!
Now, as I’ve said, there are some individuals who just can’t take no for an answer. It is unfeasible to them that they would be denied anything, even if what they are asking for is harmful and detrimental to their spiritual man. When God says ‘no’, He doesn’t mean ask me later, perhaps I’ll change my mind, He doesn’t mean I’ll think about it, He doesn’t mean maybe tomorrow. To God, no means no!
This is why His anger was aroused against Balaam, because although God had already answered the question the first time, Balaam pestered Him hoping to change His mind and His position.
It’s for our own good that God says no to us; it’s for our own good that he denies us certain things that our heart desires; and if we pray in the name of Christ for those things which Christ would not pray for, then we should not live with the expectation of a positive answer.
Please don’t misunderstand, I encourage persistent prayer, I encourage knocking on heaven’s door time and time again, but when we knock, when we pray, we must do so with the mindset that God’s will be done, not that God’s will be done the way we want it to.
‘Lord answer my prayer, but in the way I want you to, solve my problem, but in the way I foresee you solving it.’
This mindset will arouse the anger of God as surely as it was aroused against Balaam, because when we pray such prayers what we are saying is that we think we know better than God, that somehow we see more in depth than He does, and we don’t trust Him to equitably and favorably answer our prayers unless we give Him some instruction on how to do it.
Be persistent, be as the persistent woman with the unjust judge, but also be open to the reality that God might not answer your prayer in the way you envisioned Him to, and that yes, sometimes His answer will be no.
We see in part, and because we see in part we must trust the One who sees the whole, and believe that as a good Father all that He does is for our good, for our betterment, for our maturity and for our growth. Don’t second guess God; don’t think that if you ask the same question a thousand times you will receive a different answer if what you asked was not in accordance with His will. Be humble enough to know that you don’t know it all, be humble enough to accept that the answer to your prayer may come by different means than that which you envisioned, and above all, be ever thankful that God loves you enough to say ‘no’ to you once in a while.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.