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What to do when God is silent

Get a Free eBook: Do you want to grow closer to God in your prayer times? I’ve written a free guide called The Three Day Listening Prayer Devotional and I’d love for you to download it. Click here to download the free devotional. Good article from Jessica Wicks in CRU. God a…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Get a Free eBook: Do you want to grow closer to God in your prayer times? I’ve written a free guide called The Three Day Listening Prayer Devotional and I’d love for you to download it. Click here to download the free devotional.

Good article from Jessica Wicks in CRU.

God answers prayer. But sometimes, God is silent.

As believers we’ve all been there — or will be there. We may earnestly seek God, but in return only sense His silence. And this silence can be difficult, frustrating even excruciating.

The Bible tells the story of a man named Job, who was well acquainted with God’s silence. In his pain and suffering, he cried out to God. He asked for answers. And he kept asking.

But for the first 37 chapters of the book of Job, his cries for God’s help and relief were met only by God’s deafening silence.

As Christians, we are not always going to hear God’s voice, but from Job we can learn a few practical things to do when God seems silent.

1. Examine your life.

Begin by asking yourself the question, Is there any unconfessed sin in my life? Make sure nothing is blocking you from being able to hear God’s voice.

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened” (New Living Translation). This requires looking deeper than the obvious.

Ask yourself: Do I have wrong motives? Is there anything (or anyone) that I love more than God?

As God brings things to mind, quickly ask for His forgiveness. 

And remember, there’s no shame in repentance. This act of faith pleases God and restores our fellowship with Him.

2. Accept God’s Sovereignty

Recognize that God can be silent. There is no obligation for God to answer you, inform you or let you know anything.

“God is said to be absolutely free,” says A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy, “because no one and no thing can hinder Him or compel Him or stop Him. He is able to do as He pleases always, everywhere, forever.”

Like us, Job faced the choice of acknowledging — or rejecting — the sovereignty of God. In response to his suffering and loss, Job’s wife suggests he curse God and die.

Instead of following her advice, Job chooses to let God be God. “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” he asked (Job 2:10).

Accepting God’s sovereignty also means actively trusting God, realizing He is in control and can be trusted.

“Though He slay me,” says Job, “I will hope in Him” (13:15). Nothing in Job’s life, or ours, happens apart from God’s knowledge and plan. As we learn at the beginning of the Book of Job, God was fully aware of all the things that were about to happen to Job.

In fact, He gave Satan permission to do these things in Job’s life. At no point does God release His control.

3. Listen To What God Is Saying

Although God may seem silent regarding a specific request or petition, remember that He is always in a constant state of communication with us.

In fact, it is possible that you already have an answer from God. The Bible is full of specific answers about what is right and wrong as well as information about God’s character and His intention for us as His children and His followers.

So don’t forget to dig into God’s Word — His written communication to us — to find out what He has to say about the problems you’re facing or the questions you’re asking.

As you read the Bible, ask God to speak to you through the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of you. Often verses can have new significance in light of current problems you are facing.

4. Recognize That Silence Can Be Intimate

Silence can also be a sign of God’s trust.

The Gospel of John tells a story about Jesus’ friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha. When Jesus found out that Lazarus was ill, he didn’t rush to Lazarus’ house to heal him. Instead, Jesus stayed where he was for two more days (John 11:6). And before Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus died.

To Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, Jesus’ silence could have been interpreted as neglect — that Jesus didn’t care or didn’t want to help them.

This mirrors many of the emotions we feel when God doesn’t immediately answer our cries for help.

But in Jesus’ silence we, along with Mary and Martha, are drawn into a new closeness to God and understanding of His power. Four days after he died, Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus, showing His power.

“When you cannot hear God,” says Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest, “you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible — with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.”

When you are completely comfortable with a person, it is possible to sit in a room together and not utter a word.

In love, silence can be a sign of intimacy.

For Job, God’s silence was also a result of the depth of their relationship. When Satan approached God, He said, “Have you considered My servant Job?” (Job 1:8). In trust, God chose Job.

5. Keep Talking To God

Just because God seems silent doesn’t mean you should doubt Him or stop praying.

God’s silence isn’t a license for us to turn our backs on Him. Instead, it’s an invitation to press forward and seek Him even more diligently.

The psalmists modeled crying out to God. David said, “Oh my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest” (Psalm 22:2). Job also continually cries out to God, asking Him to answer.

For pages of the Book of Job, God is silent. But in chapter 38, God answers — and questions Job. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” asks God. “Tell Me, if you have understanding” (38:4).

God is in control and has been all along. He heard Job’s cries for help. In trust, He waited for the perfect time to speak. Job was reminded.

God answers prayer.

Get the free devotional: Deepen your intimacy with God as you pray through this three-day devotional on Listening Prayer. Click here to download the devotional.

The Art of Listening Prayer

Comments (9)

  • Seth, awesome, to go to bed on,”Silence can also be a sign of God’s trust”. Never thought of it this way, thanks again, Frank III

  • “…When you cannot hear God,” says Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest, “you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible — with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.”

    Chewing on this. Thanks “Dad”.

  • Wow! Thanks Seth. This was perfect timing as I have been wrestling with this for several weeks now. I have had some great Holy Spirit moments with God but I am in a real dry spell right now. I am struggling with a big change in my life and I am getting no clear vision. I pray about it a lot and still no communication. Reading this today was refreshing and has given me some ideas of other things I can do to re-kindle the communications.

    Thank you so much for sending this just at the right time for me. I find many of your blogs very, very meaningful but right now this was spot on.

  • Glad to hear that, Ken. I struggle with it regularly and people look to me for counsel. It’s normal to struggle.

  • I start my days by reading your messages and I gather strength from each of them whether you are talking about the World Race or enlighting us of many beliefs and feeling so long forgotten..
    Thank you .Sniggy

  • Good morning, Seth. Thank you for continuing this blog. It was a little difficult to find online. I had to reach back through my old emails to find the link. I really want to share these two prayers since I know that most of us find this page when life seems extremely hopeless. Thank you.

    Good morning, everyone. I have found these two prayers (Novena) to be miracle workers. Please humor me and try one or both whenever life seems hopeless. I am so sorry for not posting it earlier.

    These two Novenas can be completed in 9 hours or 9 days. If you are doing the 9 day Novena, then say the prayer every day, at the same time, for 9 straight days.

    If you are doing the 9 hour Novena, then say the complete prayer at the top of the hour for 9 straight hours, E.g. If you start at 6pm, you will finish at 3pm. (Some people mistakenly end at 2pm which is not a complete 9 hour prayer :))

    The idea is to storm Heaven with your cries and pleas and “force” God to answer you. I believe that the idea comes from Luke 11, 5-13 which states as follows:

    “And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.”

    Prayer 1: This is a 9 hour or 9 day Novena. For this prayer, I have found the 9 hour format to work the best.

    INFANT BABY JESUS OF PRAGUE NOVENA
    aka The Storm Novena or The Flying Novena

    Jesus, You said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.” Through the intercession of Mary, Your holy Mother, I knock, I seek. I ask that my prayer be granted. (state your specific request or intention here!)

    Jesus, You said, “All that you ask of the Father in My name, He will grant you.” Through the intercession of Mary, Your holy Mother, I humbly and urgently ask Your Father in Your name that my prayer be granted. (state your specific request or intention here!)

    Jesus, You said. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My word shall not pass.” Through the intercession of Mary, Your holy Mother, I feel confident that my prayer will be granted. (state your specific request or intention here!)

    I prostrate myself before Thy Holy Image, O most gracious Infant Jesus, to offer thee my most fervant thanks for the blessings Thou hast bestowed upon me. I shall incessantly praise Thine ineffable mercy and confess that Thou alone art my God, my Helper and my Protector. Henceforth, my entire confidence shall be placed in Thee! Everywhere, I shall proclaim aloud Thy mercy and generosity, so that Thy great Love and the great deeds which Thou dost perform through this miraculous image may be acknowledged by all. May devotion to Thy Holy Infancy increase more and more in the hearts of all Christians, and may all who experience Thine assistance persevere with me in showing unceasing gratitude to Thy Most Holy Infancy, to which be praise and glory forever. Amen

    Thank you, Infant Baby Jesus of Prague and the Sacred Heart of Jesus for granting my request. I will always be dedicated to You Dear Jesus and have faith that You will always be by my side. Your faithful servant (state your name).

    Prayer 2:This is supposed to be like Prayer 1, but it has only worked for me when I did a 9 day format. Please don’t ignore this prayer because it is not going directly to God. You are not praying to St. Jude or holding him higher than God. Rather, you are asking him to help you pray. It is the same as asking a friend to help you pray. This is actually a very powerful prayer. Thank you for listening.

    Novena to Saint Jude:
    Saint Jude, glorious apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor has caused you to be forgotten by many. But the Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of difficult and desperate cases. Pray for me, who I’m so miserable. Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege accorded to you to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly — (here make your request) — and that I may bless God with you and all the elect throughout all eternity.

    I promise you, O blessed SAINT JUDE, to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor you as my special and powerful patron and do all in my power to encourage devotion to you. Amen.

    Saint Jude, pray for us and for all who honor you and invoke your aid.

    (Say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be to the Father, 3 times.)

    Thank you, everyone.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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