You call on God. You know He's on the other end of your prayer, but whenever you ask Him a question you get no answer. It feels like God put the phone down to attend to something more important. What could be more important than what is on your heart right now - yet God seems silent. Is He mad at you? Several readers have asked me that question. When their prayers seem to go unanswered, they wonder, 'Is God mad at me?"
Let me answer from my perspective. In the New Testament we see Jesus full of grace and compassion for sinners (the woman caught in the act of adultery, for example). When He does display anger it is towards the Pharisees and those who claimed to love God but in their hearts were serving only themselves.
We, as believers in Jesus, can be assured that God is not angry with us since Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen Me, has seen the Father (John 14:9)." He also declared that He is one with God the Father (John 10:30,14:11). God is not angry with those who believe in His Son, Jesus. Remember how Jesus lovingly restored Peter after Peter denied Jesus three times? We live continually under God's grace and His forgiveness of all our sins (past, present and future).
So why does it seem to us that God is not answering our prayers? In my last blog I explained my frustration in waiting weeks before God showed me what to write. About a week later I set about to write this post, again feeling some pressure to follow the last one in a relatively short space of time. Nothing came. Not again, I thought. What else could I learn about waiting on God?
I continued every so many days to inquire of the Lord. Silence. I knew from Scripture that God is not mad at me. As I waited day after day I reminded myself that He would eventually respond. God's Word assured me that when I delight in Him, He promises to give me the desires of my heart (Psalm. 37:4). Then one day in my daily Bible reading I came across a familiar passage in Isaiah: "Those who wait upon the Lord... (40:31). It felt like God was assuring me, "I know you are waiting for Me." Yet while I was waiting and expecting Him to give me inspiration for another post I was tempted to fill the page with something, anything just to move on to something else.
When we pray and do not receive an answer that day, or the next, or even the next week, there is always a good reason.
As believers we have a choice when God seems silent. We can run our life's race setting our own pace, choosing our own path and ending up at the end with little spiritual fruit to show for it. We run for the sake of getting somewhere - anywhere - just so we can be doing something and not sitting idly by. We fill our schedule with activities and programs to alleviate boredom or satisfy our need to be accomplishing something.
When I attended MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) many years ago one of the moms needed volunteers for childcare in order to be free to take one of her kids for cancer treatment. Even though I dislike childcare, signing up was the right thing to do in my mind. But every time I asked God He was silent. On the last day to sign up, I was exasperated. I told the Lord that if I did not hear from Him, I would volunteer. It was then that He very clearly spoke into my spirit, "I did not ask you to sign up for childcare." His silence was His no for me.
You would think I would have been relieved, but instead I began to worry about what the other moms in my group would say about my not signing up. God allowed me to see my pride and people pleasing. Fortunately I declined the request. Several weeks later the same mom needed volunteers to learn a medical procedure in case she could not do it. I jumped at the chance. It was right up my alley. And God said, "Yes."
Had I filled my time with what I thought should be done, I would have missed God's best for me and that mom. Now my heart's desire is to be where God wants me to be, when He wants me to be there. That means I wait until God confirms His plans.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves when God is silent:
- Am I willing to let time pass me by as I wait for God's best for my life?
- Am I going ahead with my own plans because I do not trust that God will orchestrate my time, or I am not patient enough to wait for His response?
- Am I tempted to say 'yes' because of what others might think, or because I should do it, instead of depending (and waiting) on God to direct my choices?
- Am I confident that my heavenly Father loves me even when His answer to my prayers seems delayed?