Recently, my family had a serious problem. We needed a place to live, an apartment in Boston, and we had some very specific requirements. And every time we shared these requirements with a Realtor they would look at us with that polite condescending look that said, you haven't been here very long have you... Then they would politely suggest we look for an apartment about a billion light-years from the target area of the church. Somewhere, well, cheaper.
We looked and looked and looked and kept coming up empty. As we got more and more desperate we prayed more and more fervently. Eventually we sat around the kitchen table and told the Lord exactly what we were asking for. It has to meet our tight budget, we need 2 bedrooms because we have a child, we need to be relatively close to a T stop (the subway) so that people can gather for ministry with us, it shouldn't be above the third floor because of the stairs, and it needs to be close enough to the target area of the church: center-city Boston, AND they have to take dogs.. I figure, when all else fails, tell God exactly what you need.
In response to that prayer in one day we found a couple of properties that seemed like they were perfect. One of them fit all of the requirements, was exactly on budget, and was in a phenomenal location, but the owner only wanted a 7 month lease after which they may move into the apartment. The other location was $100 more/mo. and fit all of the requirements. Because of the 7 month lease we decided that we had to go with the other property, it was our only option and it seemed like we finally had an answer to prayer. We submitted an application and prayed like crazy. And we waited.
After a couple days we got a call from the Realtor. Guess what!? No apartment. They didn't like my source of income... Ouch! And we were left wondering what God was doing. After all it seemed like he was coming through. It seemed like our prayers had finally been answered. But God said "No." For the sake of full disclosure, I was left discouraged and questioning what on earth God was doing.
So we prayed some more that evening and finally decided to put an application in on the first apartment with the seven month lease. When I called the Realtor he told me that he had spoken to the owner less than one hour ago and the owner was now willing to do a 14 month lease! So we put in an application right away. I was very nervous about the source of income issue, but when I came in to provide the paperwork, they told me that the landlord didn't need it after all and we could simply sign the lease.
I was blown away. I had to apply for the wrong apartment and get rejected in order for God's timing to come through for us on the perfect place. God said "no" so that he could care for our family.