It happened many years ago, but I remember it as clearly as yesterday.
I did not receive the desire of my heart, and I pleaded with God for a reversal. For hours I cried, cajoled, and promised in prayer. Indeed, I wept without ceasing. What I did not do was read Scripture with an honest heart to see whether God might have had a reason to say no to my prayer.
Perhaps the Lord wearied of my insistent clamoring for my own way. Perhaps He saw that I was too focused on what I wanted to hear His still small voice of reason. In hindsight, I see Him sadly moving out of the way to allow circumstances to give me what I demanded. Like a stone tossed into a pond, the tragic results of that demand rippled out to negatively impact every aspect of my life.
In the years since that life-altering day, I have learned so much about prayer, about God, and about myself. I’m still studying the “science of prayer.” The following are three things that Jesus has taught me as I’ve sought a relationship with Him in His Word, through prayer and, yes, even through obedience to His will.
- If it’s for something that harmonizes with Scripture, don’t hesitate to pray and to pray boldly. “It is part of God’s plan to grant us, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not bestow did we not thus ask” (The Great Controversy, p. 525). God longs to communicate with us, so “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
- God knows more than we do. God knows the end from the beginning. God knows whether a choice that seems spiritually benign to us may actually become a tool of Satan to hinder our walk with Him. Therefore, give Him sovereignty. Trust His judgment and allow Him to say no. Unless it’s for your salvation, or the salvation of others, don’t insist God answer your prayers your way. There’s a reason Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
- Believe that God can give you a new heart, a clean heart, regardless of your choices that have caused Him pain (Psalm 51:10, Ezekiel 36:26). Have confidence in God as a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God. There is nothing God wants more than to transform you to be like Him. Even when we deviate from His path, He can still turn circumstances for His glory. Jesus can still give fresh life and hope to a heart burdened by sin.
So keep praying! But remember that for our best good, God sometimes must say no.
Cindy Tutsch formerly was associate director for the Ellen G. White Estate. She has retired but now coordinates the Believe His Prophets daily reading program, and speaks and preaches worldwide.
Note: To view this week’s world church prayer requests, click here!