Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leaving Self Behind, Part 2

Leslie Basham: Can you imagine what your child would be like if you never told him "no"? You're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, July 2.

Leslie Basham: As parents, we understand things that our children don't. And sometimes we have to say no to the things they want to do. In fact, if they don't learn to obey when we tell them no, they're headed for a lifetime of trouble. That concept also applies to the way we relate to God. Here's Nancy to introduce today's message.

Nancy DeMoss: Maybe the only thing more challenging to us than thinking that sometimes God doesn't seem to be answering our prayers is when He does answer our prayers and the answer is no. We're listening this week to a message given by Elisabeth Elliot at a conference for women in Denton, Texas. She's been addressing the matter of prayer. And today she gives us seven important reasons for why God sometimes says no to our prayers.

Many of you are familiar with the name Elisabeth Elliot. She was the speaker on the daily radio program, Gateway to Joy. Let's join Elisabeth now as she speaks on why God sometimes says "no" in answer to our prayers:

Elisabeth Elliot: Why God says "no."

1) For the sake of others. If Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane had been answered with a yes where would we be? Jesus prayed that God would deliver Him. He said, "If it is possible, let this cup pass from me." But then His next prayer was, "If it is not possible; nevertheless, Thy will be done." And if He hadn't said that, we would have all gone to hell, wouldn't we? Because it was His "Yes, Father" that took Him to the cross so it is for the sake of others that God says no. It was for the sake of all of us that that loving father said to his adored son, "No."

2) For God's glory among His people. Numbers 20:12 tells us that Moses could not enter the land of Canaan; Deuteronomy 3 also. But it was because of Moses' disobedience that God's glory was stained, and so he had to be punished. So God said no to his desperate plea to be allowed to go into the Promised Land.

And I think it's wonderful to realize that Moses didn't pout and sulk and say, "Well if this is the way God treats me, then so much for God. I don't need to do anything more for Him." He kept on being just as faithful a leader of those miserable people as he had been all along, even though God had told him very clearly that he would not enter the Promised Land.

3) God says no because He has something better for us. Luke 11:12: "What father would give his son a scorpion instead of an egg?" Now what the child thinks he ought to have may be in God's sight a scorpion. The thing that you may be hammering away on God's door about and wondering, why doesn't God answer my prayer? God has been answering your prayer. He's been saying "No, no, no, no."

"Well, but Lord are You ever going to give me this? I don't know how I can live without it, Lord, please!" And you think it's the most wonderful thing in the world, but your Heavenly Father knows what things you have need of. And it just might be that the thing you think is going to make your life wonderful is, in God's sight, a scorpion or a snake. God is going to give you whatever the thing is that He knows will be best for us. And it may look like a scorpion but turn out to be an egg.

4) God says no because we are harboring sin. Psalm 66:18.

5) God says no because we are not asking in His name. In James 4 it's clear that we have to ask in faith believing that God is going to give us the right thing at the right time. We might be praying something which is for our glory when it's got nothing to do with God's glory.

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      Now was that because God didn't like Gladys Aylward? No. She thought marriage would be wonderful, and I'm sure there are a whole lot of you here in this room today that are saying exactly the same thing. "Why doesn't God want to give me a husband?" For reasons of His own which we need not know--that's number 6. Deuteronomy 29:29 is your reference for that.

      7) In order to lead us not into temptation. And some of our prayers would lead us straight into temptation. And so He commands us to pray. He's telling us what to tell Him to do for us. You know, it's a constant two-way thing, this whole thing of prayer. And so when He teaches His disciples to pray, "Lead us not into temptation," it's not as though God is dying to lead you into temptation. But He wants us to be serious about doing the will of God.

      And here from a contemporary writer who shall be nameless--it's not I, so don't think you can guess, "Can our petitions alter the march of events, chance, or God? If He's running things, He seems capricious at times. To believe, He obliges us to relinquish our equations and enter the darkness in faith. There are impenetrable questions. We're asking God to do what would seem to cut across the unrolling of events. Always there are wars and rumors of wars. When we pray, will the hospital beds be empty because we pray?

      Prayer is a mystery. In corporate prayer, the Body of Christ is drawn into the mystery of his priestly self-offering for the world." The Bible tells us that He made a perfect offering for sin. A perfect sacrifice. "All suffering and sin are taken up in that offering of Jesus Christ to His father."

      I wish I had time to read you the whole thing--it's wonderful, but I don't. "Our place is at the altar of Calvary where the offering is made. We have not been invited to the bench where judgment is given." I'll read that again. "Our place is at the altar of Calvary where His offering was made. We have not been invited to the bench where judgment is given." So it is a daily discipline of prayer, thanksgiving, obedience and it's as simple as eating lunch or vacuuming a rug.

      Nancy DeMoss: Again today, we've had the privilege of listening to Elisabeth Elliot as she's been helping us understand why sometimes in answer to our prayers, God says "No." Someone has said that God's will is exactly what I would choose if I knew what God knows. And Elisabeth has reminded us so powerfully today that there are many things that God knows that we don't know. At least we can't see it from this vantage point.

      There will come a time in eternity when we will look back on the issues and matters of this life that seem so perplexing and, having then the perspective that God has now, we will say to the Lord, "You did all things right." The danger is that in the meantime we would become demanding of God and Elisabeth has reminded us that if we become demanding we may actually be asking God to lead us into something that would be dangerous for us.

       

      You see, God knows our needs. He knows where we're vulnerable. And the very thing that seems to us to be a blockage, a hindrance, that God may not be answering--in fact, He is protecting us. He's looking out for our greatest good and His greatest glory.

      Elisabeth has written more about this subject of unanswered prayer and the mysteries of the ways of God in a wonderful devotional book called The Music of His Promises. So many times I've picked up this book and found in its short readings a word that has been encouraging to my own heart. So I want to encourage you to get a copy of this book. If you have a copy, you may want to order a copy for a friend. I've given many copies of this book away and have had so many women tell me what a blessing and encouragement it's been in their lives.

      Leslie Basham: Thanks, Nancy. You can get a copy of The Music of His Promises for a suggested donation of $11 by calling us at 1-800-569-5959. You can also order on-line at ReviveOurHearts.com. And when you contact us, we'd love to hear how this program has affected your thinking about prayer.

      You can write to us at Revive Our Hearts. And would you consider making a financial contribution to Revive Our Hearts? We're committed to bringing biblical truth to women all across the country that are in great need and your gift will allow us to continue doing it.

      Tomorrow we'll hear more from Elisabeth Elliot. She'll talk to us about the rewards that come when we choose to forgive. Now to close in prayer, here's Nancy:

      Nancy DeMoss: Father, we've been reminded today that according to Your Word the secret things, the hidden things, belong to You. And Your Word tells us that it's the glory of God to conceal a matter. So thank You that there are things that You know that we don't know. And when we're praying and we can't seem to get Your answers, or when You seem to deny our requests, help us to trust that Your way is good and right and perfect. Thank You that You can be trusted. In Jesus' name. Amen.

      Leslie Basham:

      Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

  2. James 4:1-4: "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something, but you don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people! Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

    Our consciences need to be ransacked, don't they, in order to see whether our praying is in tune with the will of God? And of course, God knows when we don't know. We may be asking in all honesty and all earnestness for something which God knows we don't realize isn't good for us, but in His time His own answer will come.

    6) For reasons of His own which we need not know. I had the chance to sit on a sofa with Gladys Aylward and discuss what missionary life is like when you're single. And I was single most of my missionary life. I've been single most of my life, period. But she had never been married. And so she told me how when she saw an English couple come out and realized that here was this wonderful thing called marriage that she'd really never given any thought to. And she thought, How lovely! Wouldn't it be nice for God to give me a husband? And so she prayed that God would call a man from England, send him straight out there to China and have him propose. And she was a no-nonsense kind of a woman. And she said, "Elisabeth, I believe God answers prayer! He called him, but he never came."

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