We love the open invitation of Jesus to “Ask and it shall be given unto you” found in the sermon on the mount. In the same way, I am moved to persistent hope given by Jesus when he taught that men ought to always pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:10) Even David said he would have despaired if he had not believed that he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Yet is there a time when we should stop praying for something? Is there a time when our desires are clearly on a collision course with God’s revealed will and what we need to recognize is what Solomon said “There is a time to give up as lost”? Ecc 3:6
The answer simply is YES!
Surrendering to the undesired will of God may come as a crushing heartbreak of a young man or woman who watches the love of their life walk down the aisle with someone else. Or it may come through the painful perception that God has chosen not to heal you or someone you love of a life threatening disease.
There are a myriad of ways that God can simply whisper “Enough my child” to our persistent passionate plea for answered prayer or renewed hope.
Consider the following example from the life of Moses…
“I also pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, ‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? ‘Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’ “But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; and the Lord said to me, ‘Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter.” Dt 3:23-26
Even someone as close to the Lord as Moses still was told “No” by God when it came to his desire to cross over the Jordan and see the promised land of Canaan.
Then I realize when God says “No” to us we are actually in pretty good company.
The Lord also said “No” to David when he asked that God heal his infant son 2 Samuel 12:16)
And again God said “No” when David asked to build God a temple. (1 Chronicles 17:4)
The Lord said “No” To Paul when he wished to be healed of his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:8-9)
The Father even said “No” To Jesus when in the garden he asked if there was any other way than Calvary’s cross (Matt 26:42).
The bottom line isn’t will God say “No” to you. No matter how long you have walked with Him, love Him or seek to reflect Him. There are “Nos” in your future. The question is what do you do when He says it to you? Do you become angry? Do you walk away from the Lord in depression?
A pastor and his wife had one child. Their boy had become ill and the couple and their church family had begun to pray earnestly for the Lord’s healing in their precious son’s life. The man of God was sure God would heal his child. Many caring believers from church stopped in to encourage them to keep believing that God would intervene. Several even assured them that they were confident of God’s plan to heal their sick child.
Yet, the boy became worse and worse until it became very apparent he had only hours to live. The father went into the boy’s room and prayed at his bedside as he lay agonizing in fevered pain. Finally, the father walked out of his boy’s room. He saw his wife in the dimly lit hallway with tears streaming down her cheeks. The man said to his wife “Dear, we are not going to let God take our son…” Then he paused. Then through his own tears he finished, “We are going to give him to Him instead.”
Your greatest act of worship may actually be what you do when God say “No.”