Have you ever said, “No” to your child? Maybe it was a request to go out with friends, or stay up late, or get a piercing. Whatever the request, the responsible caretaker weighs the maturity of the child, the possible circumstances the child will encounter, and the future plans for that child to determine whether the answer will be “Yes” or “No”. Included in the description of a good Father, I see the strength to say, to the most adorable little face, “No”. Elevating this process to our Good, Good Heavenly Father, do we accept “No” or do we see it as an unanswered prayer? With a review of the scripture, we find several clear “No’s” to seemingly simple requests:
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42 (KJV)
Martha expected the Lord Jesus to send Mary to the kitchen, which was normal for the culture of the day. But our Lord honored the heart aligned with the Spirit and allowed Mary to continue feeding on the truth with his disciples. When you pray, allow the spirit to speak, not the fears, worries, and anxieties. Believe the spirit, which is in the presence of God.
Now, listen to the good, good Father’s response to Paul’s request to remove the thorn from his flesh:
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. -2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)
Understandably “No” is not the response we are looking for when we pray. However, as we mature (i.e., yield to the Spirit of the Lord) our prayers will line up with the will of God. We will desire the spiritual things and, consequently, we will look different from the world. The more we renew our mind in the word (Romans 12:2) and live in the Spirit (Romans 8:5, Galatians 5:25), the more we can hear and understand the Father’s response. The thoughts of God are clear: peace and provision (Jeremiah 29:11). Remember, the people (in Jeremiah 29:11) were being advised of peace and provision as they went into captivity. Nothing in the natural would indicate peace for a people entering captivity. However, our God is always greater than what we face and in the middle of captivity, He can and will enlarge your territories. Believe that even if the thorn is not removed, the power of our Christ overcame the world (John 16:33)!
Paul, even with the thorn yet in his flesh, received revelations, planted churches, encouraged believers during his life and well beyond. Most importantly, Paul was empowered by the Spirit; he was able to hear the voice of the Lord and accept the answer.
Let’s discuss the “No” in the spirit and truth, as the “Yes” to peace and provision.