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When God said “no” to my prayers

In this month’s Voice of Hope series Fr Alvan Ibeh shares the story of when God said “no” to him. It follows on from last month’s article.

This is the story of when God said “no” to me – one of so many times. But one thing I have come to understand is this; there is always a reason for every No answer we receive from God. When God says No, there is a reason, a plan and an outcome. Only with time will we come to realise the reason behind the initial response.

On December 19, 2004, I had an accident that almost took my life. Back home in Nigeria, the ember months (September to December) are very dangerous because many people will do anything to make money to celebrate Christmas.

In December, the recklessness seen among commercial drivers is nothing to write home about. Unfortunately, I became a victim that year. On that faithful Sunday morning, before I left the house, I prayed for divine protection from any road mishap. But I believe God was fully aware that something serious was waiting for me on the road.

He said No in order to use the pain I was going to encounter to transform my life in readiness for a task which I knew nothing about then, but today has become very clear to me.

Around 12.30pm that day, while I was on a motorbike as a passenger going home, we were hit by two cars, one was reversing, and the other one was at top speed. I lay down on the road with a broken arm, cracked ribs and internal bleeding. No one who saw what happened believed I would survive. But you know what? “When we are down to nothing, God is up to something “.

I spent the rest of the year in the hospital in excruciating pain and also battling for my life. Then I understood how it feels to spend Christmas and New Year celebrations in the hospital. I asked God many questions while all this was going on but got no answers.

It was like He was saying, “Don’t worry, I won’t say anything for now; when the time comes, you will see why I have said No to all these prayers”. Even when I was praying earnestly for my broken arm to heal so that I could go back to school and continue with my classmates, God said, “No, I have a different plan for you”.

I desired to be ordained with my classmates, but it never happened. But today, in all honesty, I look back to all that happened, all that I can say is, thank God for saying No to those prayers because all that I passed through then, opened my eyes a lot about whom God is. It has also helped me a lot, especially in my ministry as a hospital chaplain. I asked God to spare me pains, and God said: “No, suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me”.

Can you imagine what would have happened if God said Yes to His son Jesus’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:41-43? That means we wouldn’t have had the opportunity of salvation.

But He said No, so that we could all be saved by the death of His son on the cross. All Jesus did was submit to the will of His Father, knowing He has a great plan not just for Him, but for us all.

So, my dear friend, when next God says No to your prayer, don’t get disappointed, don’t get upset; all you need to do is believe and trust that He only has the best in store for you.

God has perfect timing, never early, never late. It takes patience and a lot of faith, but it’s worth the wait. Receive the strength and patience to wait on Him. Amen.

Have a blessed Christmas, and see you in the New Year, by His grace.

Click here to read last month’s article: When God says No, Part 1.