Here are 4 possible reasons God has not yet given you what he knows you need.
1. God Will Withhold a Need If You Need to Receive Something Else First Before He Can Supply You With This Other Need
As we all know, there is a difference between wants and needs. But what is often forgotten is that there are different levels to our needs as well. If you are into wilderness survival at all, you may have heard the rule of 3s, “You can live about 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, 3 hours without shelter (in a harsh environment), 3 minutes without air, but only 3 seconds without hope.”
My point is, all needs are not the same. Yes, it’s a genuine need to have food, water, and clothing, but there are actually greater needs. This was Jesus’ point in Matthew 6:31-33, which states:
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Here we are actually taught that God sometimes withholds a physical need until we seek our spiritual needs first. Likewise, sometimes God will withhold a real need from you if he knows you actually have a greater need that must be met first. For example:
- Perhaps you have a need for a spouse because God designed you for marriage. But if you are stuck in an addictive sin, God knows he needs to set you free from that first before giving you a marriage so your addiction doesn’t ruin your marriage.
- Or perhaps you need a better job but you have an anger issue that is preventing you from being a good leader. God will work on your anger issue before giving you a better job because he knows your anger will ruin your promotion if he gives that to you too soon.
- Or perhaps you have a health issue that you need solved. But perhaps God is using this health issue to increase your faith in Jesus because this sickness is making the next life more real to you.
All that to say, it is possible God will withhold a need from you if he is working on supplying you with a more important need first.
2. Perhaps God Is Withholding a Need from You Because You Have Not Asked Him in the Proper Way to Fulfill It
Throughout the Bible, we are not only told to pray and ask God for what we need, but we are also taught how to ask properly. For example, in Matthew 6:7-13 Jesus said:
And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’”
Jesus said God knows what we need before we even ask him. This means there are times God is not giving us what he knows we need if we have not yet asked him. However, Jesus also said we need to pray in the proper way. If you are praying in a rote, repetitive way, thinking that your many words are the key to getting God to answer you, Jesus said this won’t work. James 4:2-3 also says, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
Therefore, with these truths in mind, we have two more possible reasons for why God is not giving you what he knows you need. One reason could be that you have not asked him. And the other reason could be that you have not asked him properly.
So how do we ask him properly?
3. God Could Be Waiting for You to Ask Him in Faith So You Know He Really Is the One Who Has Given You What You Need
We already saw in James 4:3 that God doesn’t answer selfish prayers. In James 1:6-8, we are also taught that God doesn’t answer faithless prayers:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
I believe one of the reasons God waits until we ask in faith is because above the blessing is a desire to receive glory for the blessing. When God gives us things and we don’t give him the credit, this dishonors him. For our good, God often waits to bless us with what we need once we know he is the source of that blessing so that we will get the double blessing of the gift and the joy of giving God the glory for that gift. As James 1:16-17 goes on to explain:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
It says “Do not be deceived” because so often we are deceived in thinking that our needs were met through our own striving, through someone else’s generosity, or through shear good luck rather than through the merciful hand of God. When you ask in faith and God answers that prayer, you will get the double blessing of receiving your need and knowing that God loves you. Through this process of giving us gifts and getting our praise, God is glorified.
4. When God Has Not Yet Given You Something that You Need, He Is Giving You an Opportunity to Show the World the Sufficiency of Christ
Our light for Christ shines most brightly in times of need. When the world sees a Christian joyfully serving Christ even when there are unmet needs in that Christian’s life, this shows the world that our greatest need is not in this world but in Christ himself. As Philippians 3:7-11 proclaims:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”