Sometimes after I have prayed earnestly about a certain thing and it has not come to pass, I get discouraged and I say, “God has not answered my prayer.” But then I go to the Bible and I notice that some of the greatest men and women of the Bible had the same experience, and it wasn’t that God didn’t answer their prayer. It’s that He knew how to answer wisely.
- Abraham earnestly prayed that Ishmael would become the Son of Promise and the heir of his legacy, but God said no. He had something better, a line of descent through the boy Isaac.
- Moses earnestly prayed to cross the River Jordan with the children of Israel, but God said no. He had a younger leader named Joshua, and a better Promised Land for the aged Moses.
- David prayed earnestly for the joy of building a temple to the Lord, but God said no. He has something better—for David to set the stage and for his son Solomon to do the work.
- Jonah prayed earnestly that he would die, but God said no. He has something better—for Jonah to learn the lessons of compassion and write it down a book that would thrill the ages.
- The healed demonic in Mark 5 prayed that he could travel around as a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, but the Lord said no. He has something better—that he go home to his friends and tell them what great things the Lord had done for him and had shown him mercy.
- The apostle Paul prayed earnestly to be healed from his disease, which he described as a thorn in the flesh. But God said no. He had something better—for Paul to discover the all-sufficiency of His grace.
- Jesus prayed earnestly that the cup of suffering would pass from Him, but God said no. He has something better—that a fountain would be opened for all the world for the forgiveness of sin.
Can you think of other biblical examples?
PS – If you’re looking for a sermon outline or lesson plan, this could be a seven-point message into “unanswered prayer,” using each of the examples as case studies, supplemented perhaps by your own personal examples. The above-quoted section is an excerpt from my sermon for yesterday morning. To read the entire message, click here.