God often answers prayer in the following ways:
“Yes, you may have it.”
“No, that is not good for you.”
“Wait, I have something better for you.”
“My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9).
When He answers yes, it’s easy to say, “Praise the Lord!” But when He says otherwise, we have a hard time finding reasons to praise Him.
Sometimes we don’t take “no” for an answer, and we keep praying! Or we look for a reason why He didn’t answer our request. But Scripture never says God will give us exactly what we ask for every time. He is sovereign. He has the right to say “no” according to His infinite wisdom. Oftentimes, it’s for our protection.
Sometimes, God wants to answer our prayer, but the timing isn’t right. As I reflect on my life, I realize that if God had answered certain prayers according to my schedule, I would have missed His best in every single case. He may have been waiting for me to grow spiritually in some area so that I could more fully experience the blessings He had in store (Eph. 1:3). Again, He is sovereign, and His timing is perfect.
God also answers “My grace is sufficient.” We may pray for years, yet our circumstances remain unchanged. God seems unresponsive and heaven is silent. In many cases, the problem isn’t the length, intensity, or nature of our prayers. Oftentimes, God is up to something we don’t know about, something much bigger than we were expecting. Something that may require a different answer than the one we anticipated.
But rest assured that if God isn’t removing your particular “thorn,” His grace is sufficient. By an act of our will, we can decide to trust that God knows what He’s doing, even when there’s no logical or rational explanation for our circumstances. The Father is not offended when we ask, “Why?” But He’s overjoyed when we trust Him, even though He may choose not to explain. God always answers the prayers of His children. As we learn to pray, we will learn to discern His methods.