“No” Not So Fast

Three Reasons Why God’s “No” is Really a “Yes”

I Prayed and God Let Me Down – Part 4

If you recall the story of Abraham and Sarah, they were well up in age to say it nicely, when God promised them a child. In fact, Sarah had been barren, as the term goes, for 60+ years. Even after being beyond the age of 60, Abraham and Sarah lived in Canaan an additional ten years before they lost hope in having this child. Imagine with me for a second, you have a promise, a dream, high hope, ambitions that you had been waiting on for ten years. It was at this point that they decided to use a surrogate mother named Hagar to give birth to this long-awaited child. In other words, they took matters into their own hands. Have you ever attempted to take matters in your own hands when it seemed like God was saying “no” to your request?

 While I’m not sure if what I’m about to say next is the result of them taking matters into their own hands or whether it was Hagar’s actions or not, but God gives Hagar (the surrogate mother) a picture of what her son’s, Ishmael’s, future would be like. It is described that Ishmael, and his descendants would be fighters, troublemakers, and always at odds with his family. [1] Talk about receiving unpleasant news after you thought you were doing a good thing. I am certain that Hagar would have been asking the question, “Why did this happen to me.”

 Let’s go back to Abraham, Ishmael’s father. I am certain Abraham had to be relieved that he now had a son, even with this knowledge of his unpleasant future. I am positive that Abraham at this point thought that the promise from God had been fulfilled. However, God said “no” not so fast. What you, Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar have done is not what I am going to do. In other words, you have done one thing, but God wishes to do another. It would actually be many years later before Isaac, the child God promised Abraham and Sarah, not Abraham and Hagar, would be born.

 It’s in this story that I have identified three reasons why God’s “no” to our prayer is actually “yes.”  

  1. Time and Ability Matters Not with God
    For some odd reason, we try to think of God as if He is human and limited by what we are limited by, so to speak. By the way, the limits we place on ourselves aren’t the limits that God has placed on us. In one of the Bible translations I use for studying, I found a reference where God’s “no” is actually a “yes”. Allow me to elaborate.
    Abraham is around 100 years old, and Sarah is now ninety years old. Abraham in a conversation with God (#TalkToGod), asks how can Sarah possibly have a child at this age? Next Abraham asks God to allow Ishmael to live under this blessing that God had promised.
    Pause. Here’s what came next. God said “no” to that request so that He could say “yes” to what He had already promised them. Sarah will indeed have a son for you, Abraham. [2]

  2. Prayer Has a Way of Changing Normal Circumstances into Better Outcomes
    As I mentioned above, God said “no” to Ishmael being a replacement for the promised son, but He, God still had a pending request opened by Abraham. How many pending requests do you have open with God? Maybe you need to take a moment and log a few requests for the one who can handle them. Abraham asked God for “Ishmael to live under the promised blessing.” [2] When you pray, God hears you. Look at what happened because of this open request. God says to Abraham that “I will bless him also.” [3] In that simple prayer, God turned the unpleasant news received for Ishmael into a better outcome. Your prayer has the ability to change normal circumstances into better outcomes. The key is you must pray.

  3. In Order for God to Say “No” He Would Have to Silence Your Request for the Opposite
    What I need you to see is that the more you talk to God, the more He does for you. The more you will see is involvement. Because it was Abraham’s custom (normal) to conversate with God, God has a problem. The problem God has is that when you pray, He desires to do something in your favor. If Abraham had not asked for Ishmael to be blessed, God would not have moved. In fact, God had already indicated what Ishmael’s future would be like.
    With that said, I need to show you something that you have never seen or heard before. You have heard of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. These two cities were destroyed because of their great sins and the outcry of its people that had been heard from Heaven. However, before this act to cleanse these cities, God made this statement, “should I hide my plan from Abraham?” [4] This question caught my attention, and I had a question of my own to ask. Why would God have to hide His plan from Abraham?
    It is because in order for God to say “no” to you, He would have to silence your request that might conflict with His plan. As this story goes, Abraham almost stopped God’s plan of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah because Abraham prayed, and God heard His requests. When was the last time you made a request that altered God’s plan? It might be time to pray.

God, like any good father, wishes to provide and say “yes” to your every worthwhile request. In fact, a “no” from God is still a “yes” for you. It matters not with God how much time it will take or the condition you find yourself in. He is not limited by what you think limits you. Your prayer can transform normal circumstances into something better. Lastly, the reason you should look forward to praying (talking to God) is because for Him not to do, would mean you have been silenced from making a request in the first place. Could it be that the reason you prayed, and God let you down is because you did not talk to Him in the first place? This is next-level prayer.

Question: Can you think of a time where you went silent on God and missed an opportunity for Him to get involved in your situation?

[1] Genesis 16:9-12 MSG‬‬‬‬, Bible.com, accessed November 15, 2023, https://www.bible.com/bible/97/GEN.16.9-12.MSG
[2] Genesis 17:17-19 NLT, Bible.com, accessed November 17, 2023, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/GEN.17.17-19.NLT
[3] ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭17‬:‭20‬ ‭NLT‬, Bible.com, accessed November 17, 2023, https://bible.com/bible/116/gen.17.20.NLT
[4] ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭18‬:‭17‬ ‭NLT‬‬, Bible.com, accessed November 17, 2023, https://bible.com/bible/116/gen.18.17.NLT

All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.

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