When we come to God we bring our best understanding of what He desires, and we ask for that. The fact that we think we know what is best, doesn’t actually mean that’s what is best. There is One who knows what is best for us, and His name is God Almighty. As a result, what we do is we make our petition known to Him. We submit that request, and we do it with perseverance. We press our point. We continue in faith and we pray, and we pray, and we pray.
The way I’ve likened it, if I could give the illustration is when I pull into Denver International Airport and I’m going to park. There’s a ticket that pops out and it says, “Printing ticket, please wait.” And then I grab my ticket. The way God answers prayer is sort of like that. An answer does come back, and some of us have received a yes. God said yes and we’re so excited! And the next person might come along and it says, no. What? That’s impossible! Doesn’t God promise to say yes? Actually I could even call it the “doctrine of yes.” God promises to say yes. Ask whatever you will and it will be done. And so how could you get a no? Someone else gets a blank one, like what? That’s even more confusing, right?
So what I’m going to call this is a two-sided ticket. God has given you an answer and, brace yourself for this one, it is always a yes, but it just looks different. You see, when you get a no or a blank, that’s actually the most exciting thing you could ever receive. That’s a two-sided ticket. The historic Church knows this, it’s the modern church that is a little weak on this point because we look at God and we’re like, “Hey God, You failed me!” We must remember there’s another side to it — it’s a two-sided ticket. Turn it over and you’ll read the affectionate paragraph from the Father. He’s basically saying, “Look, thank you so much for persevering in prayer. Thank you so much for asking Me. I have taken your requests and I’ve converted it into what I know is best for you. My answer is yes to that.” You see, God is always going to give us a yes.
One of the illustrations that I like to use for this concept is Corrie ten Boom. Corrie ten Boom gave her life to Jesus and she said, “Use me in whatever way You want. Use me to share Your Gospel with the nations.” Then she’s going to house Jews during the Holocaust in Holland. She’s going to get caught. She’s going to be thrown into prison. Then she’s going to be thrown into a concentration camp. She had one prayer in the midst of all this. “God, not Germany. Don’t let them take me to Germany. God, not Germany. Please don’t let them take me to Germany.” Guess where she ended up going … Germany.
And at first it’s going to look like God has totally forsaken her. God hasn’t heard one of her prayers. When in actuality, He’s saying yes to a greater prayer. He’s frying bigger fish. You see she’s praying a little small-ish prayer wondering why God wouldn’t answer, “No, not Germany, Lord.” When an actuality, He’s answering a bigger prayer, which is, “Lord, use me to share the Gospel with the nations.”
You see, He’s frying bigger fish. We oftentimes ask small things and God’s saying, I’m still answering this big one. And so I’m going to say no to that so I can say yes to this.” Long and short, God says, yes. We need to have eyes to see it. And we need to allow God to mature our faith to receive the no and the blank ticket response, but we also need to turn it over and recognize that when we’re asking for something small-ish and God gives us something bigger, it’s in our best interest.
Classic illustration — the boat filling up with water. Jesus is sleeping. What are the disciples asking? “Jesus, wake up and bail water with us.” But He’s frying bigger fish. He wakes up, and what does He do? He answers a bigger prayer. “Peace be still,” and He calms the entire storm. You see if He does what they’re asking, He’s just doing menial labor, He’s at the human level. But let’s allow God to function at the God level.
If you’d like to take these truths deeper, join us here at Ellerslie for one of our upcoming discipleship programs.