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Don’t Say No

Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father (John 14:13, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I was on my way home from running errands. As I approached our neighborhood, my cell phone rang. The call was from my tween-aged daughter. The conversation went like this:

“Hi Mom. It’s Kennedy. Where are you?”

“Hey baby! I ran some errands and will be home in just a few minutes. What’s up?”

“Well, I wanted to see if you and I could go shopping for a new bathing suit this afternoon, and – don’t say no – I’d like to get a feather in my hair. Can we, Mom?”

Oh. No. She. Didn’t!

“Honey, we are several weeks away from swim season. I’m not sure that today is a good day for all of this. And by the way, you’re free to share your heart with me and tell me your desires, but you do not get to tell me what I can and can’t say no to. I’m pulling into the neighborhood now and will see you in a minute.”

Wow. I was a bit taken back by the bold expectations of my daughter.

Don’t say ‘no’? I thought. Really? C’mon girl. I’m the parent. You’re the child. Get a grip.

As I considered her angle – the way she positioned her request – my heart leapt with conviction. How often do I approach God with a request and stubbornly tell Him not to tell me no?

Jesus told his disciples that they could ask for anything. He even said that when we ask in His name that what we ask for would be given to us. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it (John 14:11-14).

Let’s consider the context here. When Jesus said this, it wasn’t an open invitation for the will of man to reign. It was an invitation for man to participate in the will of God through prayer.  It was about us asking for things that will bring glory to God the Father. It’s all about the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven – not the whim of man.

Then what about the “Name-it-and-claim-it” theology? Is God obligated to answer our prayers in the way we want Him to? No. He’s Not. Does God want you to have a million-dollar home and drive a Hummer? Does God want you to be healed of that diagnoses, disease or physical challenge? I don’t know. What I do know is this: God is a good God. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast forever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness (Psalm 111:7-8).

If we think that God can’t say no to us, then we’ve put ourselves on the throne and not God. Prayer is not about getting God to do what we want him to do – it is about releasing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). It doesn’t change His mind and He’s not a genie in a bottle whose wish is our command. God is God.

I love my daughter. I mean… I really, really, really love my daughter. But just because she asks me for something doesn’t mean that I’m going to grant her request. I love her too much for that. God is our heavenly Father. Our parent. He wants mature, wise children. Not spoiled children. He loves us too much for that.

He even told his own son “no” for the greater good. While in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, on the night he was betrayed, Jesus was distraught to the point of sweating blood. Crying out to God, He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done’ (Luke 22:41-42, ESV).

God said no to Jesus because it wasn’t His will… and because God said no, we can experience grace, forgiveness, peace and salvation. In order for God to be glorified in his life, Jesus had to submit to the will of the Father. In order for God to be glorified in our lives, we, too, must submit to the will of the Father – and His will is always what’s best for us.

This is a toughy. No doubt. But God knows more than we know and His ways are not like our ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). So no matter what we pray for or desire, we can trust that whether His answer is “No,” or “Yes,” His ways are always best.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, You are my Father and I know that you have a plan for me. Please bind me to Your will and teach me to desire Your heart above all else.

In Jesus’ Name,


Now It’s Your Turn
Where does all this find you today?

What have you been praying for?

Have you been praying for the Lord to answer according to His will or yours?

Pause to think on this and then spend some time in prayer and journaling.

More From The Girlfriends

God delights in our worship of Him. He loves when we get past our selves and our schedules… and prioritize adoration, contemplation and exaltation. My most recent CD, Uncluttered, is purposed to sweep you away from life-noise and to focus your heart and mind on the one thing that matters: your relationship with Jesus Christ. You can download songs on iTunes or Amazon – or order CDs on

39 Responses

  1. NANA ARABA says:

    Thank God for His word today. I often make the mistake of thinking that He has to give me all i ask for cos He said in His word that whatever we desire, we should ask in Jesus name and Father will do it for us. I used to get mad and disappointed when things did not go my way even after i pray. ive been reminded that we have to pray in the will of God and not in our own will. :)

  2. raechel says:

    What a great devotion. Honestly, I am so super glad that God has told me “No” for some of my requests…
    God does know best and sometimes, what we want is not going to bring God glory. We may think it will, but God knows us best and he knows our situation best and best of all HE holds our future in His hands.
    Thank you

  3. Ari says:

    “Is God obligated to answer our prayers in the way we want Him to? No. He’s Not. Does God want you to have a million-dollar home and drive a Hummer? Does God want you to be healed of that diagnoses, disease or physical challenge? I don’t know. What I do know is this: God is a good God.”

    The fact that Gwen says “I don’t know” in the passage above really stands out for me. I love GIG because it’s not about being all knowing, it’s about exploring spirituality and learning more about God. When I started searching for a new devotional recently, I believe God lead me here to this site. I had been having a real hardship with separating religion from spirituality. I was letting things I didn’t like about religion drive me away from God (who is what this is all about, right?). I asked him to share with me something that would help me grow through studying and bring more peace into my life. Thanks for not being a know it all but instead sharing the knowledge God has imparted to you.

    • gwen gwen says:

      Thanks, Ari. I’ll be the first to say that my knowledge is limited, but God’s is unlimited. He’s the source for truth… not me. But, Oh, how I love Him!!!

      Blessings, friend.

  4. Felicia O'Dell says:

    I say GOD is good and not some times but he is good ALL the time I live in a Beautiful Island Barbados and the gospel station name is CITA Means Christ Is The Answer there is where i heard about you I pray GOD will bless you all

  5. Awesome devotion! Thanks for the questions to ponder!
    Where does all this find you today? At this point, I have learned that God’s Will is better for me than mine, but I learned that the hard way. I had become a spoiled brat and I expected God to just give me what I asked for and not say ‘no,’ but now, I am so grateful for the times He says, ‘no’ and ‘wait.’ It is not always easy to deal with, but I know that when all is said and done, His Will is for my good.
    What have you been praying for? I have been praying for many things. I try to pray for others more than myself. Generally, I pray that God’s children will operate in His wisdom. And, that those who do not know Him with whom I come in contact can see or hear something in me or from me that will draw them to yield to Him. I have been praying for healing, protection and deliverance for family members. And, every now and then (not that He has forgotten), I ask Him to send me a Godly husband, so that I can extend my family.
    Have you been praying for the Lord to answer according to His will or yours? For several years, I have prayed, “Thy Will be done,” or “If it is in Your Will.” This reminds me that when things do not work out as I have envisioned, they are still working for my good because God loves me enough to want what is best for me.

    God bless,

  6. Grace says:

    I love your devotions.. they always hit the nail on the head for me.. Bless your ministry and I agree so many times we ask God and we expect Him to say yes but sometimes His no is just right! Bless the wonderful name of Jesus and thank Him for the nos…God bless u!

  7. This devotion was a real “ouch” for me. Have you ever gotten caught up in praying desperately for something too trivial to specify without terminal embarrassment? And for something you didn’t even particularly want for itself, but for the sole reason that you already had determined you *would* have this and your pride depended on not disappointing yourself? And in full awareness that you wanted it at the expense of something more important? And with your mind made up not to listen too closely to God’s side of the prayer-conversation, to make sure the excuse “He didn’t actually say no” would remain open? Well, it’s happened to me. More than once. A *lot* more than once.

    If there’s anything I should be praying for to God’s glory, it’s that I should learn how to set my heart on the right things as strongly as I now do the trivial ones.

    • gwen gwen says:

      Well said… and surely we all wrestle with this to some degree. Way to take an honest look at your heart, Katherine. That’s where the growth is… and where His grace meets us. :)


      • Gail says:

        Ive been guilty here in this same manner! I love these daily devo’s cause they always seem to hit on a matter close to home. They remind that the good Lord has a plan & a purpose for me in this life. And that evrything is according to His will…

  8. Lindsay Rose says:

    I have to agree…I am very happy God told me no in some of my requests. There are times when I made the request that I was sure that He would say yes, when the no came I was upset. Now that I look back the no was the best thing for me to have. He sees big picture and He knows why the no is needed.

  9. Kayla T. says:

    I’m glad i came across this today. I’m in a hard/difficult situation right now w/my marriage. And i’m asking myself what or how i should pray. And trying to just allow God to move any way and understand that’s it’s not really about MY way. Yes, he longs and desires for us to communicate w/him. And i think he probably smiles at us when we “ask”. But he knows far better his plan and what’s best than we can. Right now i’d love to have my way w/my situation. And i’m actually not really sure what my way is. But God knows what he is doing and how he is going to us the difficult time. Thanks for this as a reminder today!
    Please pray for me!

    • gwen gwen says:

      Thanks for sharing your heart and being honest, Kayla. Let’s pray…

      Dear LORD, Thank you for grace. Thank you for your Word that teaches us to know you and reminds us to trust you. We ask that you would move in Kayla. Do a beautiful work of healing and restoration in her marriage. Grant Kayla the joy, strength, dignity and love through your Spirit that she will need for each moment of conversation and interaction with her husband. Bind them to your will. Prune them for your glory. Renovate this marriage from the foundation up… in Jesus Christ. Amen.

  10. Lala says:

    As people we often think God’s no is actually gona make life bad, but God is super wise.. All we have 2 do is trust in Him, place our lives in His hands, and believe that whatever answer he gives us,its 4 our own prosperity nd happines.. Thank u Gwen 4 making me realise this

  11. Brooke says:

    After merely reading the title of “Don’t say no”, and without going any further, my mind jumped those instances of never say never and never saying things like “I won’t do this” and “I would NEVER even consider that *insert whatever* for my life”. And how sometimes, God calls us to do those things when we’re selfishly claiming what we aren’t willing to do!

    Anyway, fantastic devotional as usual, no matter which girlfriend is sharing. :-) God is continually using you, Gwen, and Sharon and Mary to speak into my life. I love it!

  12. Deborah lhamo says:

    wow!!!!!!!! such an effective message. i am so glad that i spent some time reading through this page. God is really talking to me. At times even i have been the spoiled child and have put my desires prior to His and wondered why is He not answering my prayers. Thank u for the wonderful reminder. i am blessed…

    • gwen gwen says:

      Oh, friend. We’ve all been the spoiled child. SO glad to hear that the LORD spoke to your heart through this devotion.

      In grace,

  13. Anita says:

    I like what you said, Gwen. I know that God cares a lot more about our character than our circumstances, and often poverty does a lot more to build the eternal values into our characters than abundance does. Oswald Chambers said that ” . . . the knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.”

  14. Tracey says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for what I believe is a truly inspired word! Many people forget what a father’s job is, or at least should be. To LOVE endlessly, not just GIVE endlessly.

  15. Thank you, Gwen. I’ve been struggling with helping my 10-yr.-old son deal with this issue. Two years ago, my dad left my mom for a twenty-five-yr.-old young woman. My son grieved and prayed that my dad would come back to our family. A few months later, he did, only to be caught back up in his sin with this woman a few months after that. My son has stopped praying because he says it doesn’t work. I’ve told him much of what is in your post, but I think hearing it from you will be more effective. I also recently prayed the pray of Jesus in the garden when I found out my husband was going to have to deploy for 10 months. We’re now almost two weeks into his deployment, and I am resting in the knowledge that God is working for our greater good. Thank you again for sharing.

  16. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this wonderful devotion…I have been struggling and praying for my daughter who is 2. She has not been diagnosed with any syndrome, but clearly she has a developmental delay (we go to 2 different types of therapy with her) but I have 3 other children who are all healthy and she is a real test for me. I continually ask God to heal her little body, and I do get angry with Him because I think why me God? I have no patience, I lose my cool a lot, why would you give me a child that needs so much more? But thanks to your devotion this morning, I am reminded that I am not in control :) that he has a plan for our lives, greater than my plan. That sometimes he says no, and he won’t give us more than we can handle. I need to thank Him and praise Him for this wonderful little girl he gave to me.

    • gwen gwen says:

      What a wonderful story. God is surely in this! Thanks so much for sharing how the LORD is using this precious child to grow you in His grace, friend!


  17. Stephanie says:

    What a fresh anointing this gives me today! I was just pondering my lack of self-esteem, trying to figure out what more I needed to do to help my vision of myself. This devotion reminded me of how absolutely simple healing can be. I do want God’s will in my life, and I DO KNOW that His Will is for me to love myself. So having read this, I will ask Him boldly for a healing in my heart. There is no book, no exercise, no new hairstyle that can top what the Lord can do for my heart! Thank you, Gwen and Jesus!

  18. Lisa says:


    I have been praying so hard for a job over the last few days. just found out about it and applied at the last minute.
    don’t know if i have been praying wrong but i really want to do Jesus will. I want Jesus to do whats right for me, but i know i have gone but i want what i want and this has to be mine. so hurry up and let me get it.
    i know thats not good. i said to a friend recently i feel like i am begging Jesus when ipray for this job. I feel its wrong. I am struggling to know how to pray.

    I know I don’t want Him to say NO to the dream job. I am sitting here struggling with this whole thing, but knowing deep down I want to do Jesus will, not my own, yet its one of the hardest things to admit and I know i will be disappointed when/if the answer comes back as NO…

    I feel like its selfish to ask for something so simple yet it would be ideal and suit me. But how many other’s are praying for the same job and wanting the same job. And saying they too are perfect.

    So I need not to demand of Jesus but I’m still struggling.

    I don’t know if this makes sense what I have written, but What i do know is that i would like to do God’s will Deep down, but its one of the hardest things to have if the answer is NO!!!

    Plus not to be down on myself for the NO to the job.

    I guess I have to Trust which is also another hard thing to do.

    thankyou for listening and reading my ramblings on your site.

    Your Don’t say NO was very appropriate but hard. Thankyou. Now to accept the answer and not be too dissappointed….


    • gwen gwen says:

      Oh, Friend. I hear your heart and know the struggles. Trusting God is a choice to release our will to His… and when we trust, He gives us both strength and peace. Keep praying! As you do, remember that God – our perfect Father – gives good things to His children. He loves us. He loves YOU! Personally. Thoroughly. Eternally.

      In Grace,

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