“I have been praying for a specific situation for quite some time and it just feels like God is not responding. What am I supposed to do? It feels like God has gone silent.”
Based on what the Bible tells us, sometimes there are real, concrete reasons why God isn’t responding.
Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
James 4:1-3 also says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
I do think that, at times, I am asking with impure motives or I am just blatantly living in sin and still expecting God to hear my prayers and respond. Those passages above make it pretty clear that God is not interested in those situations.
Jason Thornton recently guest-blogged on btylerellis.com about a similar concept, “I used to feel more spiritual,” and I think his #3 is interesting…
God Sometimes Leaves Us Because He Loves Us
Second Chronicles 32:31 shares this rather frightful thought, “…God left [Hezekiah] to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.” In a moment where Hezekiah would have appreciated God providing him clarity and a sense of peace, God left him in order to see whether Hezekiah trusted God or trusted the feelings that come from God. Though this may seem odd and hair-splitting, there is a big difference. Do I simply love my wife or do I love my wife because of what she does for me? God, in His wisdom, will apparently remove things from us in order for us to trust Him without the accompanying good feelings that we expect. For example, I believe God does bring peace to us when we make a godly decision. But I think He also can withhold that peace in order to grow us; so that we will be dependent on Him and not the feelings that He can bring.
Now, I don’t think God “leaves us” like it states here with Hezekiah. After Christ’s resurrection and departure, we were given the Holy Spirit (John 16), which makes a drastic difference between us and Hezekiah. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4), and therefore are never “left” like Hezekiah. However, I do think many times, when we are looking to God to give us a strong yes or no, He keeps his mouth shut. He’s not distant. He’s not gone. He’s just letting you decide.
So, if you check yourself and you know you’re not living in blatant sin and your motives aren’t wrong, God is probably not stringing you along for a ride–hoping you’ll read the stars looking for a sign. After all, that doesn’t line up very well with His character, does it? I think He is just letting you make your own decision.
God created you with a brilliant brain, strong instincts, and you have the Holy Spirit to help your moral compass. He created you to make decisions, to take risk, to create things. I think many times He just wants you to do something, pick something! As long as it’s not a moral decision, there probably isn’t a “right” & “wrong” way to go. There may be a “better” choice, but sometimes all are options are good and we need to just decide what we want to do. I think many times we over spiritualize the decision making process.
I’ll leave you with one final thought. I studied Psalm 89 the other morning. David spends the first 37 verses, declaring over and over and over, God’s faithfulness, loving kindness, and promises/covenant. Then at verse 38, everything changes and we see that this whole time David has felt like God has gone silent. Verse 46 literally says, “How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?” And still at the end of the Psalm, he says, “Blessed be the Lord forever. Amen and Amen.” What?! There is no resolution in this Psalm. David doesn’t suddenly say, “Ah there you are, Lord! Thank you for answering me.” Nope. In the midst of feeling like God has left him, he chooses to say, “Blessed be the Lord forever. Amen and Amen.” He can do that because he spent the first 37 verses reminding himself of God’s true character.
And the same is true for you. God is faithful to you. He loves you like crazy. And He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. So even when it feels like God is silent, we can make decisions and we can say, “Blessed be the Lord forever.”
Now go make your decision & do something.
What do you think? Do you ever feel like God is silent for other reasons? Do you think we over spiritualize our decision making? [to leave a comment, look to the top left under the date!]