The One Prayer God Won't Answer

Jealousy is a powerful thing. 

Those who succumb to its green-eyed madness have made public spectacles of themselves, done things they’ve regretted later, and even committed crimes like assault and murder. 

But why am I talking about jealousy when the title of this devotion is "The One Prayer God Won’t Answer"? Because jealousy is at the root of the answer. 

God is a jealous God. He said so in Deuteronomy 5:9: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God . . .” 

But God’s brand of jealousy is very different from human jealousy. We get jealous when our husbands talk too long to other women. Or come home raving about how the cute new intern at work has the most innovative ideas. Or mentions how terrific the neighbor looks since she lost all that weight. Human jealousy is self-focused. 

We feel jealous because we feel threatened. We compare ourselves to the other woman, the intern at work, or the svelte lady next door and realize we don’t measure up. We fear our well being is in danger. Human jealousy is rooted in self-preservation. 

God’s jealousy, however, is rooted in other preservation

God doesn’t feel jealous because people pray to Buddah, or Muhammed, or any of the thousands of gods in the world. He doesn’t compare himself to Pantheism and wish he had thought to suggest people worship trees and nature. And he doesn’t look at himself and think, If I looked more appealing, people would love me more. 

Instead of being self-focused, God’s jealousy focuses on the well-being of those he loves. That’s us. He wants us to serve him because he knows that true fulfillment comes from serving him, not from serving ourselves. He wants us to think about him, spend time with him, and get to know him because he knows our lives will be better if we know him intimately. 

He wants us to follow him only because he knows wholehearted devotion gives our lives direction, purpose, and peace. He wants us to love him not because it’s good for him, but because it’s good for us. 

Because God wants the best for us, the objects of his love, he jealously pursues us. He loves us unconditionally and forgives us every time we genuinely repent. And he withholds anything that will draw our loyalty and affection away from him

In his book, Taste and See, in a commentary on James 4:2-4, John Piper writes about “people who use prayer to try to get from God something they desire more than God” (328). 

“. . . something they desire more than God.” 

We do our best to pray for good things, but sometimes good things can replace God in our lives. Sometimes even the desire for these good things can replace God in our lives. We think if we could just find a husband (or get rid of the one we have), we’d be happy. Or have a child, get a promotion, or buy our dream home. We set that thing—whatever we’ve set our affection on—smack dab on the throne of our lives. 

And if something else is on the throne, guess Who’s not? The scary part is, most of the time we don’t even realize our desire for something good from God has displaced God himself. 

God, however, knows the truth—that we won’t be truly happy until we find our satisfaction in him alone. God knows this, because he created us this way. 

Which brings us back to the answer to my question, “What‘s the one prayer God won’t answer?” 

The prayer for something we desire more than God. 

What about you? Have you ever struggled with wanting something from God more than you wanted God? Leave a comment below and share your story.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

Enter your email address and VALIDATE the Feedburner email sent to your inbox.

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. Love this post, it really made me thinking and I prayed about it.
    I think that everything we ask for shall glorify Jesus Christ, shall manifest His presence in our lives and build up the body of Christ.
    Of course I prayed that God wouldnt remind me of every hasty, selfish prayer I´ve said and He was graceful enough to not do so.
    Then I asked myself when my prayers are answered immidiately.
    Is it those times when I realize that there probably are lots of Christians all over the world who struggle with the same feelings, same problems as I do at that time and I start praying for all of us, no matter of gender, race, nationality, sex, age and so on.
    Those times when I pray that Jesus Christ lifts off everything that the world tries to imply on us, and that He fills us up completely with Holy Spirit and draws us all closer to Him.
    ...and all of a sudden I feel the grandness of this. Is it possible that I can sit in my little hut, on a windy peninsula, 67`N in Norway and actually have a huge impact on the world in a couple seconds.
    Is it so that I become exceptionally succesful at that moment when I stop praying for all those things that will make the world think of me as succesful...
    and instead start praying for what really matters for all of us?
    Is it so that when I say those prayers they´re answered immidiately?

    1. Rita, your words are wise and insightful. Your thought remind me of James' words,"you do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may consume it for yourselves." I, too believe that our greatest prayers are those that focus on what God's will is in a situation, not necessarily our own. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and stopping by.


Did this devotion speak to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and join the conversation.