Why Does God Say No?

Why Does God Say No? June 23, 2018

I can’t tell you how many times I have been told ‘No’. But there’s nothing worse than when you are asking God a question, or for something you really want, and His answer is ‘No’.  This week I got to talk to my son about getting answers to prayers. And he wanted to know why God says no instead of giving us what we ask for.  It was the first time in my life that I could stand at the other end of a decision with a clear view, and a real knowledge that God was looking out for me when He said no.


When God said No


When I was in college I met a guy that I really fell for. We will call him Peter. We dated for a year, and we wanted to get married. But when we both prayed about whether it was right for us to get married, we both got a very firm “No” in response.


What?!  We were adults, we knew each other well, we were the same religion, and seemed to have similar life goals. But God had other people in mind for us.


Unfortunately we lacked faith or wisdom or both. Because we were so determined that we asked God again. He said another firm “No”, stronger than the last time. It was painful! Peter was having a hard time with that answer, and prayed fervently about it a third time. And he got an answer that shut us both up permanently.


The third time Peter prayed, the Lord said “No. But if you ask again, I will say yes. And you will both be damned for it.” Now who can enter a marriage with that kind of message? I was stunned! Damned?! Crap! Well, I definitely stopped asking. It was my personal Martin Harris situation, when he asked Joseph Smith to see the newly translated pages of the Book of Mormon.


Joseph and Martin


As you know, the Lord said no many times when Joseph wanted to allow Martin Harris to take the newly translated pages of the Book of Mormon home with him. He wanted to show it to his wife. And God said no. But they kept asking.


And the Lord finally said yes. And the pages were lost forever.  I love that God prepared for that situation. And we still have the precious messages of those pages because God told Nephi to repeat a lot of what his father, Lehi, said hundreds of years ago.


I know that Martin Harris and Joseph Smith were both devastated by that experience. I hope they forgave themselves, because their experience was a lesson and a blessing for me. By learning of their experience I already saw how the Lord works.  I didn’t doubt when I heard Peter’s explanation. It gave me courage to follow the Lord’s will, and trust His plan.


Blessings from obedience


It was hard but Peter and I moved on and both married other people. We kept in touch, and our lives have taken very different directions. I can truly see now why God wanted us with other people. We would never have been able to accomplish the great things we have both done if we were together.


I got to share some of this story with my son. And I got to walk him through how I met my husband, his father. Then I shared some of the blessings we experienced together that brought this sweet boy into our lives. It was a beautiful reminiscence. And the perfect cap to a difficult trial in my life.


Looking at the big picture I see all the blessings the Lord had in mind for me. My husband is an amazing man, and I have been able to serve the Lord by his side in unique and historic ways. We experienced a series of miracles that led up to us having our son.  And I would have never started writing if I hadn’t met an amazing lady half a world away.


Not often are we able to stand at the other end of an experience and look back and see the Lord’s hand, and His reasons so clearly. Usually we are sitting at the beginning of a journey, and struggling to accept the Lord’s answers. Or we are trying to hear an answer from the Lord to help us with a decision. My son wanted to know how to understand the answer God is trying to give us when we pray.


How to hear an answer


It can be hard to hear the Lord when you aren’t used to it. But the Lord hasn’t left us to guess how He works. In the scriptures God promises to answer us, and to tell us His answers in our minds and in our hearts. I am grateful God always uses more than one witness when teaching us. I have often relied on that second witness to assure myself I am headed in the right direction. And He never disappoints.


Sometimes my second witness will come from an unexpected place: a conversation with a friend, a song on the radio, or an impression in my heart as I sit in church. Often the messages of songs will speak to me, or something a friend posts on social media will jump from the page. The Lord speaks to each of us in our own language, and in the way each soul will best understand. So how He speaks to me will likely be different than how He speaks to you. But the feeling of certainty is the same.


The very best way to get a real answer when you are seeking for guidance in your life is to follow the Lord’s council in Doctrine & Covenants 9: 7-9.


Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.


Not Every Yes Is Easy


Studying out the issue will often open your mind to the opportunities and challenges a new opportunity presents. It also is a great way to see how you personally are feeling about things. I remember when I was pregnant with our miracle baby (my son), and my husband got a new job offer. He had prayed about it and felt God wanted him to take it. I prayed too. We had studied it out, and I knew his job would require a lot of travel. Oh how I dreaded that! We had never been apart since we got married.


But the firm answer from God was that he should take the job. That the job would present me with challenges, but that it would be best for my husband’s career. He took the job. And even though his travel schedule has been a challenge, I have grown SO much! I really feel like I needed this growth, because I no longer doubt myself when he is away.


His travel has become less over the years. But the lessons are still here in my heart. It made me a stronger woman, a better mother and spouse. I couldn’t have gotten this lesson with my husband here to save me from every challenge. And I am grateful for the confidence and strength I’ve gained.


Not Every No is Forever


So there you have it. An answer to why God says no. It’s because He has plans for us that we can’t see or understand. And only after the trial has passed, and we have learned the lesson, can we start to see His vision for us. He loves us and wants the best for us. And often the things we are asking for aren’t what is best for us. I know that every time He has said no, He was redirecting my life. I get caught up in the temporary things. And He wants us all to see the permanent, eternal things.


One day we will all stand at the end of the journey and look back and see every reason for every challenge we face. We will see what we learned from it, and why God needed us to. And we will see with gratitude that we have become more and stronger for every one of them. Trials suck while we are enduring them, but they end. While the lessons they teach us last forever. May you be blessed as you seek your answers from God. And may you trust Him, even when He says no.

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  • Michael Lonergan

    First of all, sorry to break it to you, but Joseph Smith was very well known in his time fr his “tall tales”. In other words, that means he was a lying snake oil salesman. Secondly, Smith knew neither Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew or any other ancient language. Thirdly, not one shred of evidence exists concerning your “golden plates” that were conveniently lost. Hint: They never existed in the first place. Fourthly, not one shred of archeological evidence supports the stories of the Book Of Mormon. Not one. If the civilizations the Book of Mormon describes as existing in North America at that time, there would be overwhelming proof. To date, not a single Mormon archeologist has uncovered any evidence of the civilizations described in the book of Mormon. This leads me to your question: “Why Does God Say No?” The obvious answer is, God does not exist. If the book you believe in and put your faith in for guidance is proven to be a lie, why would the God described therein be true?

  • Minjae_Lee

    Thank you for a very enlightening essay. I found it very helpful. Like you I have found, as I look back over more years than I care to admit, that the “No” answers have steered me in a very different direction and provided me with fabulous blessings that I would have missed had I followed my own will.

  • skenl

    I am very sure the author already is well aware of all the points you have raised, and has her own understanding of them and has come to terms with them. You are not “breaking” anything new to her. I am unsure why you would raise them in this forum. It is unlikely that your comments on issues raised many times over the past decades and century +, would change her interpretation of her life experiences.
    But of course, you have come to your own conclusions, to which you are entitled. Historical facts are facts. Interpretation of those facts is something different. The presumptuous and condescending tone of your comments suggests an extreme bitterness and/or arrogance. The author’s piece does not call for such a response.

  • Michael Lonergan

    It does not hurt to remind the gullible of the truth.

  • Minjae_Lee

    Might I also mention that feeding trolls is not recommended. It does no good whatsoever but only encourages them.

  • Abby Christianson

    Thank you! And I’m glad you have been similarly blessed. 🙂

  • Abby Christianson

    LOL! I love you.

  • Abby Christianson

    Thank you for defending me. You are so sweet. And everything you said is spot on.