When do you know your answer from God is “No”

(Kelly Meszaros) #1

I’ve had this question on my mind for awhile. At what point do we as believers have to accept God’s answer to our prayer is “No”? I’ve been praying for something for about 3 years faithfully. I sought wise counsel, thought I heard from God, and as I believed my prayer was about to be answered, there was a hurtle that set me back. At what point do I essentially stop praying this same prayer and asking God to intervene in a situation, and just understand that’s “not His will” and move on? This isn’t a prayer for someone’s salvation, I feel like the answer to that would be to never give up praying for someone’s salvation.

I appreciate any and all insight and look forward to hearing answers/thoughts.

(SeanO) #2

@Kelly_Mesz That is a great question. Even though your question is not about finding God’s will, a book on God’s will by Bruce Waltke really helped me when it comes to understanding prayer, so I have provided a link below. What Waltke does a great job of pointing out is that so often we want to hear a voice from God or have a feeling of peace or a word from a friend and trust that as God’s Word directly to us on that matter. But at the end of the day the Biblical way of discovering God’s will requires wisdom - we are not likely to receive in instantaneous affirmation of God’s will.

So, a few questions that I would recommend when trying to discern if you should continue praying are:

  • does it align with Biblical principles? Is what you are praying for Biblical?
  • what are your motivations for praying for this particular thing? Are your motives pure before God?
  • what is the counsel of godly people around you? Do they affirm that this is something you should be pursuing?

But if you have already done all of these things, which it sounds like you have, how do you know if God’s answer is ‘no’?

I think that is fairly simple. You know God’s answer is no if it never comes to pass.

And, when should you stop praying for it?

Honestly, I think you can continue to pray for it as long as it is Biblical, your motives before God are pure and godly people around are affirming you in seeking God in this matter.

Hope those thoughts are helpful. May the Lord Jesus grant you wisdom as you try to understand this matter.

Do you agree/disagree with these thoughts? Any further questions?

(Jamie Hobbs) #3

I get this one all the time. I’m no expert in prayer life and have just as much to learn as anyone, but in my experience there are 3 basic responses to prayer: Yes, No, and Wait. Yes is fairly straightforward. It’s an opening door that we can step through. No is a denial, which isn’t always bad as I’ve prayed for things not to happen too, but again I’ve found No to be straightforward as well. The hard one is Wait or Not Yet. I think this is the one in discussion here.

If I hear a Yes or a No, I stop praying for that thing as I’ve got my answer. If I hear Not Yet, now I keep praying, and I continue to pray until that answer becomes one of the other two. What we have to be careful of is trying to change a Yes to a No, or a No to a Yes. Now we’re like pouting children who didn’t get their way. To Sean’s point, this is where wisdom comes in, being able to differentiate the Wait from the other two. As I’ve grown closer to God, and I have a ways to go, I’ve found that this has helped me. The better I get to know Him, the easier it has been to know when to continue praying and when to thank Him for the answer and move on.

(Brittany Bowman) #4

Kelly, your heart to follow God’s calling is so evident, and I don’t think He’ll leave us forsaken when we search for Him genuinely. This post from a while back has been churning in my heart. I wonder how these people felt and interpreted God’s nudges. If they hadn’t acted on those nudges, would the elaborate plan have unfolded, just without their chance to be a part, or would it have stopped completely with God finding another way to reach Bailey? When are times that nudges aren’t from God?

(SeanO) #5

@Brittany_Bowman1 That is a great question. I would actually like to add a few extra layers to that question.

What is the difference between a nudge and a gut feeling?

Do the Scriptures ever recommend we follow nudges?

If nudges are not 100% reliable, why not simply focus on obedience to God’s commands rather than trying to grasp at feelings that can be deceptive and confusing?

Does trying to discern nudges add an extra layer of anxiety to what could be a more simple decision?

The Church I attend basically says if the ‘nudge’ is in keeping with Scripture and has the potential to be edifying to someone else, just go for it. I find this an unscientific approach with little Scriptural support, but it is certainly a pragmatic approach.

(SeanO) #6

@Jamie_Hobbs To take this a bit deeper, how do you know when you’ve heard from God? In your own life, is it a feeling of peace, a thought, a physical sensation? I find this is the level at which the people I interact with struggle - discerning what is being communicated in the first place.

(Jamie Hobbs) #7

That is the million-dollar question. I think people want a step-by-step process so that they can know 100% of the time when God has spoken. But the Bible proves that He speaks in multiple ways to different people. To one person it’s a sign, in another a dream, and a myriad other ways. For me, I’ve learned to listen to the “still small voice” as it’s called, which has manifested itself physically in the past.

A couple examples: when I felt the call to ministry, I was helping lead an apologetics conference at my church, and during one of the videos I said to God out loud “I could do this”, meaning be an apologist too. The response was instant, and might as well have been audible as I know it didn’t come from me. “Then why aren’t you?” I felt a jolt of electricity, similar to Nabeel’s testimony of being unable to move while he was being “rebooted”. I don’t know what happened during the rest of the video. I had been called into ministry and there was zero doubt.

Another example was an answer to a failing. I was on the sidelines watching one of my boys play soccer. I looked over and saw a mother of another boy on the team, and for some reason I felt an urge to go witness to her. But my mind rebelled and gave all the typical reasons why people don’t witness: it would feel awkward, I don’t know her, what would people think… All that nonsense. So I disobeyed and did not witness. That was the last time I saw her, as she died in a car wreck that week. I was devastated and didn’t even know her name, because I had no idea where she was. I went to her funeral, a total stranger, begging God to tell me she was a Christian. During the service, I received such a peace at one point that I knew it was God saying, “Don’t worry. I have her. Learn from this.”

It varies based on what you’ll listen to at the time. There is no one way that He communicates. It’s about stopping long enough to listen and being sensitive to His will. Spending time with Him is the only way you can do that.

(SeanO) #8

@Jamie_Hobbs Thanks for sharing those significant experiences from your life. I personally lean towards God’s Spirit filling us with peace, love and hope each day but that direct guidance is rare and must be approached with great caution and wisdom. But certainly we cannot limit what God is able or willing to do and nudges from God may be one of those things that I personally am not acquainted with, but that others do experience. Blessings.

(Kelly Meszaros) #10

Thank you so much for your response, I greatly appreciate it and it does help. I’ve heard the same advice about wise counsel and making sure prayer is aligned with the Bible. I suppose my follow up is, what if you feel so convicted towards something, and that involves another person, and the other does not feel that way or says they “haven’t had a nudge” in return? Is that God simply saying no? For example, if someone prayed, sought wise counsel and thought they were called to missions work abroad, yet had a spouse say “No, God never nudged me that way” how would that person discern God’s direction? The person themselves has sought God and thought they heard His will spoken, but the caveoit is in the other person? This is where I’m wrestling too. Can God reveal something to one person an not the other? Kinda a follow up/different question.

(SeanO) #11

@Kelly_Mesz That is a great question and I am afraid I cannot give a definitive answer, but I can offer some perspective. Missions agencies I have considered require husband and wife, at a minimum, to be in agreement that the Lord is calling them to missions. Sometimes they even require both spouses to be qualified to be missionaries. So I think there is a recognition that missions work is difficult on a relationship even when both people are fully committed.

A relationship has been compared to a team of oxen pulling a plow for the Kingdom. If one ox is trying to pull in one direction and the other is just sitting there or going off on a tangent, all kinds of chaos will ensue. Part of a healthy relationship is having a shared vision that both people can agree upon.

Here is an excerpt from the Cru website about their expectations for couples who want to join that I think is helpful.

"We consider every married couple who desires to join our ministry to be a husband and wife team; therefore, couples must be in agreement as to their leading to the Cru ministry, and both must apply and be accepted as staff. For couples without dependent children, both husband and wife should be committed to full-time ministry involvement with Cru. If an applicant is engaged and plans to marry prior to joining staff or within the first year on staff, the fiancé must submit an application if they are desiring to join Cru staff.

If only one spouse desires to join our staff they must complete the application process similar to any other new staff applicant. Because our ministry considers couples to be a husband and wife team, the non-staff spouse agrees to be a “Spousal Affiliate.” A Spousal Affiliate meets Affiliate Staff acceptance requirements, although not required to carry on any Cru ministry activities. Spousal Affiliates stay connected with Cru by once a year meeting with their spouse’s supervisor or a local H.R. leader and once every three years attending their spouse’s staff conference or Cru’s biennial national conference."

The Importance of Keeping Our Vows

One one level, marriage is itself a vow and a commitment to sacrificially love another person. Of course, if there is abuse of any form then a person should and must get out of an abusive situation. But if we have made a commitment to sacrificially love another person I think that keeping that vow is a witness to the watching world - we can be missionaries where we are at right now. As my seminary professor said, we can ‘bloom where we are planted’.

Consider Psalms 15, where David describes what a righteous man is like - part of being righteous is ‘keeping a vow to one’s own harm’ - keeping your word. And marriage is a big promise. So I think that when it comes to married couples if both are not on board, that generally the one who is more on fire for Jesus should sacrificially love their spouse and their community, praying that perhaps their spouse may grow and feel that same call one day as well.

Psalms 15

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

Regarding Seeking a Spouse

On a lighter note, I have known people who felt God had told them to marry a specific person. But that person disagreed quite strongly. In that case, it is certainly a sign that it is not God’s will :slight_smile: Sometimes our wishes can mislead us.

Hope those thoughts give you some perspective. May Jesus give you peace and guidance as you seek to bloom where you are planted and discern His call for the future!

(C Rhodes) #12

Hi Kelly. I find that my struggle is not when people or things present obstacles to what I feel GOD has asked me to do. My struggle comes in accepting that even the obstacles serve GOD’s purpose.

If I am sure that GOD has made the call, and even if it is just my heart’s desire. I am learning a true respect for GOD’s timing, His answer. I think sometimes I may not be sure why, but, I trust GOD’s heart concerning my best. I trust GOD’s oversight.

So, whether the answer is glorious, whether I must shove something to a back burner, or get rid of it completely; in conclusion it all works to benefit me. My task is to remember that, and walk in the surety of GOD’s presence in my life, and in this World.