Here’s a very helpful article from the Gospel Coalition —

  • God knows what you really want, not just what you think you want. Remember that truth on those nights when you moisten the pillow with your tears … after months and years have passed in seeming silence, when you’ve begged God to bring back your prodigal child, or rekindle the heart of your indifferent spouse, or bring healing to a painful church experience, or remove you from a difficult work situation. You make a particular request in a particular moment, perhaps you even appeal to Christ’s promise to grant whatever we ask for (John 14:13), but God goes quiet. Or worse, he declines. And now your tears multiply—your yearnings mixed with hurt, confusion, and betrayal.
  • Everything is needful that God sends; nothing can be needful that he withholds,” wrote John Newton, the 18th-century pastor best known for “Amazing Grace.” Tim Keller applied the truth of Newton’s words to his own experience of disillusionment when God rejected a heartfelt request: “As I look back, God was saying, ‘Son, when a child of mine makes a request, I always give that person what he or she would have asked for if they knew everything I know.’”
  • God is a good Father who gives us what we most deeply want. “The real nub of her longing” is how Augustine describes his mother’s prayer underneath the prayer, the essential petition beneath the depths of surface-level requests. Commenting on this passage from Confessions, Peter Kreeft writes— “Often, the best way to get what we most deeply want is not to get what we consciously want. God often gives us our most deeply desired end precisely by denying us our asked-for means, or gives us our long-range ends by denying us our short-range means, because He sees clearly, as we do not, the whole providential picture and how best to work out all things for our really best good, while we can only ask for some things for our apparent and immediate good.
  • God is painting a portrait. Dark strokes are part of the canvas. The Artist knows his subjects better than his subjects know themselves. Trust his hand. Yield to his brush. God often says no to our particular pleadings in order to say yes to our most profound prayers.