Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
And because he saw that it pleased the Jews,
he proceeded further to seize Peter also.
– Acts 12:2-3a
Can you accept God’s will when His answer is no? If you are praying in God’s will, He will always answer you when you pray (Jer. 33:3). However, sometimes His answer will be no.
King Herod arrested Peter and prepared to have him executed. During the night, as his church prayed, Peter’s life was spared when an angel freed him. God miraculously answered the prayers of His people that night. Yet not long before, James, too, had been arrested by Herod. James, however, was executed. Surely the church had prayed for James as fervently as they did for Peter, yet that time God’s answer had been no.
Did God love Peter more than James? Of course not. James had been one of Jesus’ closest friends. Yet God allowed James to die while He continued to use Peter in His service. The church in Jerusalem did not become bitter toward God. They accepted His answer because they trusted His love and wisdom.
There are times when God wants us to persist in our praying until He has completed His work in us (Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-6). However, when God’s answer is no, it is futile to continue pleading for a yes. Some refuse to take no for an answer, insisting that if you pray long enough and hard enough, God will ultimately grant any request you make. It is an affront to your Lord to continue pleading with Him when He has clearly said no. The purpose of prayer is not to conform God to our will but to adjust our will to God. We must learn to trust God so that if He says no, we accept that His will is best.
Excerpts republished with permission from Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby c. 1997 B&H Publishing Group.