“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10


Last week, we discovered that there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. There are three ways in which God could answer our prayers. There are moments that He will do it. There are times He will delay or defer it. Then there are situations when God denies or declines our prayers. Yes, sometimes, even when we pray to God, He says no. 


God always holds the Divine prerogative to deny prayers. The reality is that any answer, whether affirmative or non-affirmative, is equally an answer. No is as much an answer as yes.


From the text, we’ve also discovered legitimate reasons why God says no. Here is a quick review:


God says no when we’re praying foolish prayers—mindless, thoughtless, and pointless prayers.


God says no when we’re praying forbidden prayers—prayers that violate God's very will, commandments, and statutes.


God says no when we’re praying with the wrong motives.  


God says no when we’re praying faithless prayers because we pray with doubt. 


God says no when we’re praying feuding prayers—when we’re fussing and fighting with each other, failing to honor the relationships God has given us.


God says no when we’re praying foul prayers—prayers fouled by way of sin or unconfessed sin in our lives.


So how do we respond when God says no?


First, we must resist demonic lies about God because whenever God says no, the devil shows up and starts telling us lies about God. You know the lies: 


God is not good. 

God is not kind. 

God is not loving.

God is not powerful. 


The devil will even suggest that praying wastes time because God said no all the other times you prayed. Resist these demonic lies about God. Resist the lies that God is displeased with you, doesn’t like you, or has forsaken and forgotten you. 


Part of the problem is that we have a spirit of entitlement towards God. We think God is supposed to be our cosmic butler. We treat Him as if He is supposed to show up and not parent us or not have moments when He says no. 


So when God says no, you have to rest in the definite love of God. Satan tries to build a wall between God and us. He tries to cause us to question whether God loves us, affecting our fellowship with God. But God’s no doesn’t mean He doesn’t love you, as Paul says in Romans 8:37-39


We can place our full lives in God’s hands. So much so that even when God says no, we can still trust Him. You may not understand God’s heart, but you can trust His plan. However God leads you, even if it’s on a path you don’t desire to go, you can still place your full confidence in God.  


So we’ve gone through reasons why God may say no. What are the resolves when God says no?

Acknowledge the Goodness of God

Even when God says no, God is still good. The goodness of God is the very thing Satan will buffet us on. 


“If God is good, why didn’t God answer my prayer the way I wanted Him to?”


Resolve to acknowledge God’s goodness. God is still good, even when He says no.

Accept the Grace of God

Not only must you resolve to acknowledge the goodness of God when He says no, but you must also resolve to accept the grace of God. 


“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.2 Corinthians 12:9


Grace is the unmerited favor of God. God is extending to Paul His sufficient grace. But peeling back the word ‘sufficient’ and looking at it from the Greek perspective shows us that it means ‘to possess unparalleled and unfailing power.’ Yes, His grace is sufficient.

Personalized Grace

How do we respond to life when God says no? We resolve to accept the grace of God. God has a personalized grace with your name on it for whatever thorn you’re dealing with in your life. 

Present Grace

People are sometimes perplexed because they know the stuff you’ve been through, but they can’t figure out how you keep a smile on your face. It’s because you’ve got a grace that God has placed your name on. But more than just a personalized grace, it’s also a present grace—not was, not shall be, but is. Do you know how you’re surviving right now? It’s the present grace of God that’s keeping you. 

Persevering Grace

His grace is not just a personalized and present grace, it’s a persevering grace - a grace that enables you to persevere. How many of us would have given up by now had it not been for the unfailing grace of God?

Paradoxical Grace

However, did you know this grace only works under certain conditions? That’s antithetical to the culture that we live in. The culture that we live in demands that you always have to have it together. You’ve got to show that you can manage life, that you’re always sufficient, capable, and competent, but God’s grace doesn’t work against the backdrop of your self-sufficiency.


God’s grace only works when you’re weak. It’s paradoxical. It’s almost like the principle of saving someone who’s drowning. You do not immediately save them if they’re still struggling. You maintain distance from them and allow them to become exhausted. Only after they’ve become weak and exhausted can you rescue them. There are moments when God will allow you to go down before He snatches you up. When you are weak, He is strong.

Anticipate Growth From God

Your thorn is designed to help you grow. You grow by understanding that God has greater plans for your life. 


“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me.” Psalm 57:2


Even when God says no, He has something better for you. He has a greater plan.


“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9


When God doesn’t answer your prayer the way you want, understand that He has other ways. Indeed, God has a grander perspective than you and knows what’s best for you. 


God also has a glorious purpose in mind. There is nothing He can’t do. So when God says no, it’s not because God can’t. It’s just not God’s purpose. Don’t get the power of God confused with the purpose of God. 


You’ll know you’ve reached spiritual maturity when you can articulate gratitude and trust in God, despite the no or an unremoved thorn in your life. It is never easy, and that’s why we need His grace, whether it be yes or no. 


Some of you may be in the season of being upset with God. But God has never promised us that He will always answer prayers in the affirmative or save a loved one from death. God did promise that those who have accepted His Son will live eternally with Him in heaven.


While all of us have been upset with God when He said no, we can be reminded that God has a greater plan, a grander perspective, and a glorious purpose for us. He has given us His unfailing grace so that amid weakness, we can be strong and carry on.

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