It’s one thing to pray and receive a clear “Yes” from God. You want to celebrate. It’s another thing to receive a clear “No” from God. You may be saddened, but hopefully in time you will understand what God is doing. But it’s quite another issue when you pray and God says, ” . . . . . . . . .” (nothing at all). How do you make sense of God’s silence?
“When God is silent” is a flow chart that tries to answer the question from Scripture. I developed the chart a few years back when I was teaching a series on prayer. You can download the chart as a pdf file if you like.
It starts with five questions that deal with reasons why God may not answer.
- Have I neglected to pray?
- Am I in sin?
- Am I selfish?
- Am I doubting?
- Is my request out of God’s will?
If the answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, the obvious response is to admit to God you are wrong and then move forward.
But what if the answer is “No”? What if you are doing everything right? What if you are praying, your sins are confessed, your motives are pure, you have faith, and you believe the request is in God’s will, then what? How do you make sense of God’s silence?
The column on the right gives five possible reasons for God’s continued silence.
- Keep praying. Stay faithful, and don’t quit yet.
- Learn to depend on God and his grace. (God wanted Paul to depend on God for strength. If God removed his thorn in the flesh, he would have depended on his own good health.)
- What you are asking for is not a good thing from God’s perspective.
- Perhaps God is waiting to reveal something new about himself. (Mary and Martha would not have discovered Jesus had the power to raise the dead if he had healed Lazarus.)
- Perhaps there is spiritual warfare that is preventing the answer. (And like Job, you will never know about it.)
I found the flow chart helps me to examine myself and think through the possible reasons for God’s continued silence.