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When God Says No: The Mystery of Suffering and the Dynamics of Prayer

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In many situations and throughout the ages, when people have petitioned God for the relief of their suffering, or the suffering of others, God has said "No." In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that the "cup be taken from him," if it be God’s will. God answered no. Three times St. Paul begged God to remove the "thorn from his side." Three times God said no. When, say In many situations and throughout the ages, when people have petitioned God for the relief of their suffering, or the suffering of others, God has said "No." In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that the "cup be taken from him," if it be God’s will. God answered no. Three times St. Paul begged God to remove the "thorn from his side." Three times God said no. When, says Father Lanahan, my family prayed desperately for my brother Neil to be cured of melanoma, God said no. When we prayed for a twenty-five-year-old niece to survive a car accident, God said no. When the victims of war in the former Yugoslavia, or in any of the hundred places war is being waged at any given time prayed; when people afflicted with cancer, alcoholism, or AIDS prayed for deliverance; when the victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse prayed to be spared, the answer was "No." This book is not another theological or philosophical attempt to provide a rational solution to the divine puzzle of why God allows innocent people to suffer or why our prayers in Jesus’ name are not effective. This book attempts to provide simple, practical, pastoral insights for the ordinary person who comes to listen to the Word of God when we assemble as Church. When God Says No ends in Heaven. Face to face with God, says Father Lanahan, we will not be given the answer to the question that no theology, no book, not even the Bible, no dogma, no authority, not even that of the Church, has ever answered: Why the suffering of the innocent? Instead, we will be blessed with the fullness of salvation and healing and made whole at last. We will be with the Answer in love forever.


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In many situations and throughout the ages, when people have petitioned God for the relief of their suffering, or the suffering of others, God has said "No." In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that the "cup be taken from him," if it be God’s will. God answered no. Three times St. Paul begged God to remove the "thorn from his side." Three times God said no. When, say In many situations and throughout the ages, when people have petitioned God for the relief of their suffering, or the suffering of others, God has said "No." In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that the "cup be taken from him," if it be God’s will. God answered no. Three times St. Paul begged God to remove the "thorn from his side." Three times God said no. When, says Father Lanahan, my family prayed desperately for my brother Neil to be cured of melanoma, God said no. When we prayed for a twenty-five-year-old niece to survive a car accident, God said no. When the victims of war in the former Yugoslavia, or in any of the hundred places war is being waged at any given time prayed; when people afflicted with cancer, alcoholism, or AIDS prayed for deliverance; when the victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse prayed to be spared, the answer was "No." This book is not another theological or philosophical attempt to provide a rational solution to the divine puzzle of why God allows innocent people to suffer or why our prayers in Jesus’ name are not effective. This book attempts to provide simple, practical, pastoral insights for the ordinary person who comes to listen to the Word of God when we assemble as Church. When God Says No ends in Heaven. Face to face with God, says Father Lanahan, we will not be given the answer to the question that no theology, no book, not even the Bible, no dogma, no authority, not even that of the Church, has ever answered: Why the suffering of the innocent? Instead, we will be blessed with the fullness of salvation and healing and made whole at last. We will be with the Answer in love forever.

22 review for When God Says No: The Mystery of Suffering and the Dynamics of Prayer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Herndon

    A must read! This book was helpful to me in so many ways. I highly recommend you read this book, And share it’s truth with others.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I read this after attending a three day retreat at my parish. Father Lanahan is gifted and humorous speaker. He is a good writer. I learned/revisited the thought that God may say no but the purpose of prayer is not to change God but to change us. His does not deliver us from suffering but help make the suffering bearable. If someone dies, God has allowed that to bring us a future blessing. (Hard pill to swallow at the beginning of grief.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    An excellent book on how suffering, if accepted as a part of this life, can transform us with the help of God's grace. Fr. Lanahan uses the example of his brother Neil's death from melanoma at a young age as a basis for the book. He also uses a favorite quote of mine from the French poet, Paul Claudel, several times, which summarizes the book quite well, "Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with His presence." An excellent book on how suffering, if accepted as a part of this life, can transform us with the help of God's grace. Fr. Lanahan uses the example of his brother Neil's death from melanoma at a young age as a basis for the book. He also uses a favorite quote of mine from the French poet, Paul Claudel, several times, which summarizes the book quite well, "Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with His presence."

  4. 4 out of 5

    mike davis

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. He is Catholic and offers a different fresh view of suffering for me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Sandel

    God's graces...and learning about unanswered prayers! Add to your reading list! God's graces...and learning about unanswered prayers! Add to your reading list!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Helle Brown

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Yenko

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bill Randall

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lantern Publishing & Media

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robert P. Denoncour

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anchorite

  14. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Coakley

  15. 5 out of 5

    Debby

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joan Shank

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Buske

  18. 5 out of 5

    M.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rawan Al-omari

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marissa Espinosa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Flaherty

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sue Lin Andres

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