Does God Ever Answer Prayer, "No!"?

I threw my Hebrews Bible Study group for a loop when I raised this question. I suggested that scripture says He does not. I also confessed that my initial reaction to this question is to say, "Of course He does," but I cannot find scriptural authority for that answer. I should also say that just about everyone who I have ever asked this question also says He does. I'm just not so sure. I realize this goes against everything that is rational and against everything we have ever been taught, but it is something I've been mulling over for quite some time now.

Now, my assertion, or suggestion really, requires several caveats (just to name a few):

  1. God can only do what God can do. I don't think God is able to answer a prayer that would harm one believer in favor of another, for example. Nor do I think God is able to answer prayer that is made sinfully (translated selfishly, impatiently, etc.).
  2. God will not go against His Word. If a prayer is contrary to scripture, or requires something unscriptural of others, it cannot be answered.
  3. God cannot heal, relieve you of, or deliver you from certain conditions brought about by unforgiveness, for example, or willful sin, without the requisite forgiveness or confession and repentance.
  4. God's answers aren't always the answers we expect. For example, an answer to prayer for financial breakthrough might include learning about budgeting, or saving, or giving as prerequisites to God handing someone a big fat check; but, if the one praying just wants the check without the means to handle the funds, whose really saying, "No"?

There are others, of course, but, rather than simply tell me how wrong I am, I would ask that you think about the example(s) you come up with and see if they do not fit into one of these categories first. Our group raised a few interesting examples, and I will try and treat the categories of answers in a later post, but I want to know what you, my dear reader, think.

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