The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 5/28

Posted on | May 28, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 5/28

Scripture reading: II Corinthians 12:1–10

Thank God for
Unanswered Prayer

I had it in my heart to build a house . . . for the Lord, and I made preparations for building. But God said to me, “You
may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.” (I Chronicles 28:2–3)

For most of David’s life he had one consuming passion: he wanted to build a glorious temple in Jerusalem worthy of the God he served. For centuries the Ark of the Covenant had been housed in a tent. But now that the kingdom was established and the nation strong, David wanted to erect a permanent house for God. This was no selfish ambition to advance his power and enhance his reputation. This was holy ambition to promote God’s glory and advance his divine purposes in the world. So David bought the land, saved money, drew up the blueprints, and organized the workers. Let’s do it! But at this point God himself stepped in with a simple message that was impossible to misunderstand: No!

David wasn’t the only spiritual giant in Scripture who received a divine No! After forty years of leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt and through the desert, Moses had a passionate yearning to enter the Promised Land. God said No! Paul struggled with a debilitating “thorn in the flesh” that he believed was hampering his effectiveness in ministry. Three times he asked God to remove it. Three times God said No! Even Jesus was denied his request when he pled with his heavenly Father to remove the cup of suffering that was placed before him. God answered his prayer with a crisp and decisive No! No! No!

Perhaps today you can identify with David, Moses, Paul and Jesus. Perhaps you have been living with a God-given, Spirit-inspired, Christ-honoring desire for God to do something or change something in your life or in your world. Maybe you are a married couple who wants to have a baby, or a single person who longs to be married, or a pastor who desires your church to grow, or a parent who wants nothing more than for your rebellious child to come to faith. And yet God refuses to answer your cry, and you live daily with the frustration of an unmet desire.

I certainly do not pretend to have all the answers to the problem of unanswered prayer. There is much that is beyond my ability to fathom or understand. But I do know this: Few things keep us closer to God than when we are living with a frustrated desire. It is when our marriage is struggling, our health is failing, our kids are rebellious, our church is divided, our finances are in crisis, and our nation is in moral decline that we are closest to God. When our prayers are unanswered is precisely the time when we pray the most! When we realize that Jesus is all that we have, we discover that Jesus is all that we need!

        Under his wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to his rest.
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort and there I am blest. (William O. Cushing)

Are you living with some frustrated desire today? Is there some prayer that God is not answering? Perhaps the desperation and yearning in your soul is the very thing that is keeping you close to him. So let me humbly make a radical suggestion: perhaps you should thank him for leaving some of your deepest desires unmet!

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.
—from the song, “Unanswered Prayer,” written by
Garth Brooks, Pat Alger and Larry Bastian

point to ponder • Sometimes God says “yes,” sometimes God says “no,” sometimes God says, “wait,” and sometimes God says, “I have a surprise for you.”

prayer focus • Thank God today for—as yet—unanswered prayer. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).

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