The Bible is confusing when it talks about prayer.
Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.
Mark 11:24 Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be yours.
John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Wow, sounds like we can pray everyone back to good health, have that great job, have the perfect marriage, and be blissful at all times with no bumps along the way. Read the entire Bible a little more closely. It’s very confusing when it comes to prayer. Personally, I believe in the power of prayer if it’s to glorify the Father in the son. If it’s for our own personal gain, probably the answer will be no. God has a plan. God’s plan is not always our plan. We often later realize we are thankful we were told no. God had a better plan. Sometimes we are supposed to learn a lesson and become a better person. Sometimes we are supposed to learn to live without someone or something. We need to learn that we can survive as a single person or without our friend. Yes, that often makes us angry in the same way that your child gets angry at you when you tell them no. You as a parent know more than the child. God knows more than we do. Still, it’s difficult to read these Bible verses and pray with all our hearts and receive a no as an answer. It’s difficult not to be angry at God. It’s a test of our faith. It’s especially difficult when we are dealing with terminally ill family members or loved ones. Sometimes people do receive a miracle and recover from a terminal illness. Why not my family member? Usually, they do not, regardless of how many people lift them up in prayer.
Are we praying for the right thing when we receive a no from God? Usually, we are not. Most of us lose rational thought when a loved one is terminally ill. It’s hard to watch anyone suffer. It’s hard to let someone go. Everyone dies. When someone is suffering and the medical options are exhausted, we need to continue to pray. But we also need to ask ourselves if we are praying for ourselves because we can’t deal with the loss of a loved one or if we are praying for the loved one. When we are praying for people in those situations, we should be asking God for comfort and the ability to get through the situation and not just ask for a miracle and for someone to live forever. We need to think about whether or not we are asking our loved one to continue to suffer because we can’t deal with our own emotional loss. Is our prayer selfish in nature? Dealing with loss can be devastating. People get irrational and unintentionally place selfish demands on those around them. People get angry. Anger is actually a healthy stage of grief as long as we don’t get stuck in the anger phase.
What we should never do is lose our faith that whatever answer we receive, it is the best answer for us. Even when we hate the answer. Yes, it’s difficult at times. Usually family members receive peace when a suffering, terminally ill loved one finally passes. God blesses our loved one by removing their suffering and calling them home. We should try and find happiness for them. We have to learn to live without that person. We cannot expect other family members to give up their own lives in order to replace the lost family member because we can’t deal with our own loss. Should we help our family members and friends through their loss and difficult times? Yes. Should we give up our own lives and future plans because of their grief? No. We aren’t helping them long term by enabling them to remain dependent. We need to help them learn to live without that person not be that person’s replacement. Sometimes we have to say no to our family members and friends after God has just told them no. It’s difficult but it’s necessary.
Mostly, we just need to have faith, maintain a personal relationship with God, and trust in him to guide our path. Sometimes we have to accept no as an answer.