All of us at one point or another has uttered a desperate, earnest plea or two, only to be met with “silence” from the Lord. This silence can sometimes cause us to become despaired, to lose hope, to become bitter towards God and it always leaves us asking why.
Most of the time we cannot and may not ever know the why, and as hard as it may sound, God does not owe us the answer (Job 38-41). However, we can glean from Scripture that there are several reasons why we may encounter God’s “silence”. Some of those include:
–Maybe what we are are praying is based on unbiblical expectations. (1 Tim. 4:16)
–Perhaps God has something better for us. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
– Perhaps it is not God’s timing yet. (Ecclesiastes 3)
– Perhaps our motives are selfish (our will verses God’s will). ( James 4:3)
– Perhaps God is allowing us to struggle in order to draw us into deeper relationship with Him. Perhaps He is using that sense of need to draw us deeper into Him. God Himself is the greater answer. (Psalm 42) (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
– Perhaps a positive answer would violate someone’s free will.
– Perhaps God is answering our prayers slowly and subtly through the power of influence rather than control.
– Spiritual Warfare (Daniel 10:12-1; Ephesians 6:10-12, 18)
– Faith (Matthew 21:22). We persist in prayer not because of a lack of faith but BECAUSE of our faith. (Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30 and the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8)
– Perhaps there unconfessed sin in our lives (Matthew 5:23-24, James 5:16, Psalm 66:18).
(list comes from the book God on Mute by Pete Greig. For a more comprehensive list and great explanation, I direct you there.)
I do NOT believe that the reasons for God’s silence is a black and white, cut and dry thing. Sometimes we are doing everything right and God still remains silent. God may reveal His reasoning and He may not. We may know when we get to heaven and we might not. Scripture tells us that God’s ways are not our ways and His understanding is not our understanding. But we can know that God is good and His plans and reasonings are for our good and ultimately for His glory.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
So what do we do in the waiting?
Our greatest temptation in the waiting is to lose heart (Prov. 13:12), but Jesus encourages us to keep persisting in prayer because unlike the unjust judge, God will bring justice and He will bring it quickly (Luke 18:8). So in the midst of the waiting let us remind ourselves of the promises of God because they are “Yes” and “Amen”. God IS who He said He is and He WILL do what He said He will do (2 Corinthians 1:20; Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18).
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. – 2 Corinthians 1:20
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? – Numbers 23:19
…so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. – Hebrews 6:18