Crushed: Why Does God Say No? Does God Answer all prayers? Homily for January 13, 2022. Homily given at Christian Brothers College High School, Town and Country, Missouri.
Going Behind the Word
Crushed: Why Does God Say No Sometimes?
Crushed. I prayed and prayed and prayed and God did not answer my prayers. Grandpa died anyway. My friend is still sick. I didn’t get that job. These all seemed like very good things? Wouldn’t God want these things to happen?
Saint Thomas Aquinas said that the problem of evil is the most difficult challenge to believing in God. It is however, the case, that praying for something that seems quite good and not having that prayer answered can be a difficult challenge too.
I think there are a couple of important things to keep in mind. The first is that God loves us more than we can possibly know or understand. And the same is true for everyone else. God loves everyone, every person, more than they can possibly know or understand. And that is the most important thing we need to know about God.
God Only Desires the Good for Us
One thing that is important to remember is that God only desires what is good for us. It cannot be the case that God wills harm for us. Because of this, any action of God is such that it can only be the case that whatever God wills for us is for our good.
Of course we know that God also permits evil (never causes it) because some greater good can come from it. And so even though it can appear that God is not concerned for our welfare or the welfare of those we love, it is simply impossible for God to will anything that is not good, or to allow some evil where no good could come from it.
So what’s the answer? Why does God say no? Does God answer all prayers?
The bottom line is that the first and most important objective of prayer, in my view, is that it is an act of faith. We are not informing God of something he does not already know. He knows what we need before we ask him. Rather, it is a chance for us to grow in faith by receiving the grace and help God always wants to give us.
Why does God say no? Does God answer all prayers? Just as parents sometimes say no to their children, so too is it the case that God can say no to us. A toddler who asks to only eat candy for dinner, as much as they may see this as a good thing, would not be healthy if it were the case they only had candy for dinner. So too with us it can be the case that we can think something is good, but may find ourselves too limited in the overall picture to see that what we want may not be good for us.
Moreover, because God is all-knowing (and we are not) God can certainly know what is best for us and what is not. God may be able to see some greater purpose that simply is not available to us at any given moment, since our knowledge is limited.
So what does all this mean?
God loves us. God knows what is best for us. God often reveals and shares with us those things that help us to grow in holiness. God gives us the grace to pray and helps us to know Him better, to love him more, and to be loved by him.