“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask,” said James and John to Jesus. Now, I can relate to that! I always want Jesus to do whatever I ask Him to do.
Their request, however, was rather presumptuous–to sit on the right and left of Jesus on His throne in Heaven. But the Lord responded gently, “You don’t know what you are asking” (see Mark 10:35-38). And I’m sure there are times when I don’t comprehend what I’m asking either.
Most of us understand that God answers our prayers one of three ways: yes, no, or wait awhile. Sometimes we say, “I received an answer to prayer today!” Of course, we almost always mean that God said, “Yes” to our request. But “No” is an answer too. And thank God that as the good parent that He is, God loves me enough to sometimes say, “No.”
Of course I always ask God for what I want, but I admit I don’t always know what is best. Like a child who repeatedly begs for candy and Cokes, I sometimes ask for things that aren’t best for my spiritual growth. But if I ask for something that is not for my good, I can be assured that God will not say “Yes,” when He should say “No.”
Did you ever notice that God the Father answered Jesus’ prayer with a “No” answer? On the night when Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, three times He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26). Because the Father said, “No,” to Jesus’ request, you and I can have forgiveness for our sins and spend eternity with Him instead of receiving the punishment we deserve.
When you’re praying for something specific, be encouraged. Today God may say, “Yes.” Then again, He may say, “Wait awhile.” But if He says “No,” be assured that truly our Heavenly Father knows best!