One faith-based country song that I often hear debated is “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks. A lot of people say, “That song is wrong because He answers every prayer. It’s just that sometimes He says no.” (Note: Please re-read that is the most mockingly sarcastic tone possible.)
To those people, I say, “Don’t try to out-think the song, dude. Quit with your semantic jibber jabber. You know that is what it means.”
If you haven’t heard the song, it is about a guy, with his wife, that runs into an old girlfriend. Once upon a time, he had prayed that he would be with the ex forever. But now he is very thankful that God said no because he is so happy with his wife. It’s classic country.
I think we all have stories similar to that, though, right? It may have been a relationship, a job, or even a “thing” that you wanted really badly. God said, “No.” And now, looking back, it was all for the best.
However, I think we tend to dwell on the unanswered prayers that didn’t seem to turn out so well from our point of view. We think about those that weren’t healed, the jobs we didn’t get, the things that didn’t change, and the love we didn’t find.
Why did God say no? It is easy (and 100% accurate) to just assume He knows better than us and we can’t comprehend His plan. But do we really believe that? I often see people start to place blame elsewhere then they get a no from God. They wonder if they have not had enough faith, or maybe they doubt where they once thought God was leading them, or perhaps they question the character of or even their relationships with God.
When times are really tough, it is hard to keep your mind from going there. What did I do wrong? Why is God not listening to me? Is my faith not strong enough?
Several of the letters in the New Testament give us examples of faithful people that did not get their prayers answered. From Paul’s thorn to Timothy’s stomach problems, we see some pretty saintly fellows not receiving the blessings that they prayed for. Does that make you feel any better?
Well, if that doesn’t, this might.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV)
Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, prayed that God would find another way for His mission to be accomplished. He knew the suffering that was to come, and Jesus asked the Father to allow Him to avoid His fate on the cross.
* Spoiler Alert *
Just in case you haven’t heard the rest of the story, Jesus was ultimately crucified. You heard me right. Jesus was given a no in response to a prayer request. His prayer was not answered in the way that He wanted.
So would you question His faith? Would you try to assign blame to anyone because He received a no from God? Absolutely not. If anybody was in-tune with the Master’s plan, it was Jesus. Yet, the greater good prevailed as it pertained to God’s plan.
So the next time God answers your prayer with a no, count yourself lucky. That exact same thing happened to Jesus Christ.