At that time I pleaded with the LORD: “Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”
But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”
Deuteronomy 3:23-26, NIV*
This is part of Moses’ final address to the Israelites, and he’s referring to the incident where he lost his temper with disastrous results.
Moses is blaming the people, who surely tried his patience, but he was the one who acted in a way that didn’t honour God.
He tells them he asked God to relent and let him into the Promised Land. But God said no.
Not just “no”. “Don’t ask Me again.” Period.
There are other times in the Bible where God gives the people what they want when they insist on it, even though it’s not in their best interests. Psalm 106:15 says in the King James Version, “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”
Romans 1 talks about people continually turning away from God until He “gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts” to all manner of wicked living.
We’re called to persist in prayer. I think it comes down to trust: God is good, and He knows best. And He has the right to make choices—from His greater wisdom—that we may not like.
It’s about persisting until we get an answer—not until we get the answer we want.
Silence may be a sign to keep praying. “No” is an answer.
Mighty and holy God, You are all-wise and You love us. Help us to pray with praise that You listen and answer. And help us to hear Your answers, be they yes or no. Grant us faith to trust Your goodness, and obedience to not push for our own ways when You reveal them to be against Yours.
*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.