The Ten: times God said “no”

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I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that when we ask God for something, He will either say “Yes, no, or wait”. Here are 10 instances in the Bible where God said “no” to requests that were made of Him. If you can think of other times that we haven’t mentioned, you can email us at

1. No to entering the Promised Land
Numbers 13, 14 and 20:2-12
Because the Israelites did not believe in God’s power and disobeyed, and Moses failed to follow God’s instructions when bringing water from the rock, God did not permit them to enter the land He had promised.

2. No to cursing the Israelites
Numbers 22-24
When King Balak asked the prophet, Balaam, to curse the Israelites, God refused to curse them. Instead, He blessed them, not once but three times!

3. No to favouritism
Mark 10:35-45
James and John did not quite comprehend what they were asking when they requested positions of honour, sitting on Jesus’ right and left in the coming kingdom. Jesus told them “to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

4. No to saving a life
2 Samuel 12:1-25
David was abundantly blessed by God but showed “brazen contempt” to God’s Word by murdering Uriah to marry his wife. Because of this, David and Bathsheba’s firstborn did not survive.

5. No to boasting
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
This is an interesting passage to read into. Basically, Paul was given great insight by God into what paradise is like and to keep him humble he is designated a “thorn in the flesh”. Paul asks God to remove it three times, eventually concluding that God is made more powerful in his weakness.

6. No to building His temple
1 Chronicles 28
David has plans to build a temple for God, however, God tells him “no”. Instead, God designated David’s son, Solomon, to build His temple.

7. No to giving up (yes to a nap and a meal!)
1 Kings 19:1-8
When Queen Jezebel threatened Elijah, in fear he ran off into the wilderness and asked God to take his life. God had too many amazing plans for Elijah so refused to answer his request. Instead He sent an angel to care for him.

8. No to healing the possessed . . . at first
Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30
The Syrophoenician woman showed great faith and wit when Jesus initially held back from healing her possessed daughter. Because of her faith, Jesus instantly healed her daughter.

9. No to withdrawing from God’s plan
Luke 22:39-46
“Father, remove this cup from me” is what Jesus asked God whilst praying on the Mount of Olives in reference to His impending betrayal and crucifixion. An angel appeared to strengthen Him, with Jesus submitting “not my will but yours be done”.

10. No to Paul’s travel plans
Acts 16:6-10
Paul and Silas are planning to travel to Asia Minor to preach when God stops them and sends a vision to Paul. As a result they travel to Macedonia instead.

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