When God Doesn't Give Us What We Want


“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23-24


In John 16, Jesus makes a stunning, bold, and remarkable promise to us. As Christians, we want to ask our Father for the things we long for because we want the full joy He offers us. We pray for greater faith, endless discernment, and to experience God’s grace, boldness, and joy. The need and satisfaction for worldly things slowly starts to diminish, and sometimes we wonder if God will truly answer our prayers.

Although such prayers and longings are sincere, we do not know ourselves very well or the depth and persuasiveness of our sin. And as sinners, we can’t help but have unreal expectations of what God’s answers to our prayers will be…instead, His answers come across as problems. They look like God has turned His back against us. The loss, disappointment, affliction, and sorrow we feel are all that consume our minds—whether it’s because God decided to end a pregnancy, take the life of a loved one, or place us in a difficult situation with a friend. Sometimes His answers are not what we expect, and we often do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

But sisters, if we ask God for a greater, more profound love for Him, what should we expect to receive? We should expect to receive answers that give us an outstanding awareness of our sinful depravity…answers that make us lean more into God and less into ourselves. We want answers that let us know we are deeply loved, forgiven much, and forever pursued. With regards to God’s answers to prayers, we should expect the unexpected. Only God knows what is truly best for His children, and sometimes His greatest gifts and inmost joys come with pain and sorrow…but do not lose heart—He will be with us each step of the way.


Father, help me to see Your way is always best. I know You are molding me through my hurt and pain. I pray You guide me in every trial and affliction, and help me to see it is all for Your glory and for Your good. My life was given to me by You, God. Thank You for such a sweet gift. Amen.

Your Turn

Has God not answered your prayers the way you want Him to? Are you struggling with loss, sadness, or discontentment? Pray God would give you peace and help you to trust Him daily. Know His plan is always greater than our own. 

About the Author

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Raegan Thornhill is wife to an amazing man of God and mom to her baby boy, Weston. She is the director, content manager, and writer at Whole Magazine. She believes cheesecake, snow, a cup of hot coffee, and an episode of Breaking Bad can fix any dreadful day. Her mission in life is to show women of all ages how they can be whole again through the Gospel of Christ. She longs for her writings to be a testament of the mercy and grace God has shown her. You can follow more of Raegan on her blog, Delighted In Him.