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Jesus Prayed and God Said “No”

I’ve been bitter lately because I haven’t been blessed with a child while I’ve watched others conceive and give birth during that time frame. I have not only prayed for a child, but I’ve cried, pleaded, beseeched, begged, and bargained in the hopes that I might be a mom. Alas, that has not been the case. I get bitter and upset with God, not because He’s not answering my prayer—on the contrary, He is answering my prayer—I am dismayed because He is saying no.

I have been praying for various people who have been out of work to obtain full-time jobs. Again, God has been saying no.

In Paul E. Miller’s A Praying Life, he contrasts asking selfishly in prayer against not asking at all.

Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane demonstrates perfect balance. He avoids the Not Asking cliff, saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me” (Mark 14:36).

. . . In the next breath, Jesus avoids the Asking Selfishly cliff by surrendering completely: “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (14:36). Jesus is real about his feelings, but they don’t control him, nor does he try to control God with them. He doesn’t use his ability to communicate with his Father as a means of doing his own will. He submits to the story that his Father is weaving in his life.

And most of us know what happens after Jesus prayed: he was unjustly crucified by the Pharisees and Roman authorities.

Reading that prayer through the lens of A Praying Life struck me with a view I’d never had before: God denied Jesus’ request. Jesus must submit to the Father’s will and not follow his own. If God can say no to his own son, how can I expect a “yes” answer to all of my prayers? This realization is a game-changer for me because I now know in these things I must submit myself to God’s will. God’s will is not for me to have children right now. It is a painful answer as I’m sure temporary separation from the Father was a painful answer for Jesus. It’s a painful answer for God to tell dear friends that they will remain unemployed for several years.

Not that submitting to the will of God will be easy; in fact, it will be even harder knowing I must do it willingly.

  1. January 9, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    This is hard for me, too. I have prayed to be blessed with a complete family, which is something I’ve never known. (My parents separated and began divorce proceedings while Mom was pregnant with me, back in the mid-60’s. Mom never remarried, and, since child custody laws were different back then, I ended up never meeting my dad. That’s a whole different story I could spend all day on.) This is my reality: Both of my parents and my husband are now deceased. I have no siblings. My husband wouldn’t agree to have children. This leaves me with no surviving immediate family.

    It seems crystal clear to me that it is God’s will for me to live alone, possibly for the rest of my natural life. I am not dating because I am not meeting marriageable men…and yes, I’m maintaining an active church and social life, not sitting at home. I do not have sufficient child-care resources to pursue single parenting, especially since my job requires working a rotating shift that includes evenings, weekends, and holidays when professional care is not available. I believe that if God were answering my prayers “Yes,” then I would have no problems dating and meeting potential spouses, and necessary child care resources would be placed in my life.

    It distresses me that I must willingly accept my life like this. I’ve begun praying for acceptance, but it is not coming easily. My close pastor friend says my desire for a family is a “call God has placed in my life.” Instead, I believe God placed the desire in my life so that I will live like the Apostle Paul…trying to serve God with a thorn in the flesh that He will not take away. I continually ask how this is bringing any glory to Him. How can I be an effective witness when people know that I, as a child of God, have been left alone to suffer unrelenting emotional pain?

    I do have my spiritual family through my church, and I am grateful to God for that. I even consider my pastor friend as the brother I never before had. Perhaps that’s the family God intends for me. But why will God not add to that with an earthly family? Does He not trust me? Am I too immature (even in my mid-forties)? Do I still have a series of painful lessons to learn?

    My biggest fear has always been living alone, growing old alone, and dying alone. It appears God is forcing me to deal with this fear by making it come true.

    • January 9, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      I’ve had the same fear, I still do. My ex spouse had found someone new not long after our daughter was born. She then decided to make allegations to gain more from me, on top of that thanks to our current family laws I barely see my daughter. I’ve been single since 2003 and at times I’ve wondered, if god is just putting me on a very long hard test 😦

  2. January 9, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Have faith, I’m sure god will reveal all his reasons in his timing. Just have to have the strength, to be patient 🙂

  3. estreitta
    January 9, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Very interesting perspective Kass. I hadn’t thought of it that way. But I have to have hope that the answer is No, not right now, not no indefinitely. I have to have Faith & hope like Sarah, Hannah & Elizabeth; Although it their child didn’t come when they wanted God still gave them the ability to conceive in his time. God is Able.

    I understand not wanting to get your hopes up and become bitter. You know we’ve talked about it, I’ve been there! I just had to come to the conclusion that his answer is Not right now, but i have the Faith that it could happen any time and any way even if our first child is given to us through adoption.

    Sending you Hugs my friend!

    • January 10, 2012 at 12:46 AM

      I don’t doubt that God is able, either. However, it seems to me that God is not willing…at least for some of us.

  4. January 9, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    Life is not always what we want, and sometimes what we want is not what is convenient for us.

  1. January 3, 2013 at 11:13 AM

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