I hate it when God is quiet, especially when I really need to hear from him. Despair, anger, fear are some of the other words I would use. If he wants me close to him, why doesn’t he talk to me?
I go through the Bible and look for prayers that God has answered directly to petition him. I want to pattern my prayers after those to see if there is a key that opens the lock of God speaking to me or guiding me in a way that I can understand. Ok, maybe that is cheating a little bit. In some ways I’m trying to game the system. "Desperate is as desperate does" is my justification.
I have patterned my prayers after:
Gideon (Judges 6)
David - Too many to quote (Read much of his prayers and story in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and the Psalms)
Ezra (Ezra 9:5-15)
The pestering widow (Luke 8:1-8) I tried this one a lot.
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsamane (Mark 14:36)
The big hitters. The examples of prayers to God being most clearly answered, even if the prayers were not answered in the way that the person praying wanted. Still, no responses. Nothing clear. It feels like the pain for me is as bad in the “not knowing” as it would be if God answered me in a way I didn’t like. I often say that “Facts are our friends even when they are not friendly.” No answer means no facts, right? What does God being silent mean?
I can only tell my own story. Here goes-
My brother had cancer. He was dying. I prayed for him to live. He didn’t. Before he died, I asked that he pass in less pain. I do know what less was, but I know he was in pain, a lot of pain. He was also surrounded every moment he was awake or asleep with the love of many, many people. He and I prayed together that his death would bring God glory. Through his time with other people, sermons he gave at his church 4 days before he died and his book, “Lessons from the Back Pew,” he gave God glory. I think that God gave me answers to my prayers for my brother, but I didn’t hear them during all of that time. When I did, they weren’t all the ones I wanted, but the prayer of giving God glory was answered clear as a bell.
Jen and I wanted a baby. Try, try, rely - fail. Try, try, rely - fail. Try, try, give up, pray, accept the failure - baby. We were entrusted with a great daughter. We prayed a lot, we cried some, we hurt, prayed some more. I don’t know, did God listen or did we just get lucky? We got what we prayed for, but not the way we wanted based on our timing, but what we wanted we received from God. Was he really silent? I thought so during the frustration and doubts, now I don't think so. Not just because of the answered prayer, but as we look back, there were encouragements along the way that kept us going. Without those encouragements, we would not have continued.
Marriages are hard. My first marriage was without God. We had a son who is awesome. The marriage did not last, but the son did and has been a great blessing. New marriage, with God, great marriage. Prayers in the new marriage are our norm. Was the first marriage without prayer the reason for the divorce, or was my son the result of God knowing the blessing he would entrust before I was ready?
Business - As an entrepreneur there are times that put you on your knees. Our company prays together in both good and bad times. The prayers do not seem to be related to rising and falling of the business. Is God answering prayers during both seasons?
My life - What am I supposed to be doing? I have prayed and wondered about this for a long time. I pray about this with fear. What if God tells me to do something I really don’t want to do. I pray about this like you watch horror movies, with your hands to your eyes and looking through the interlaced fingers. I’m writing this blog. Does this bring him Glory? Is this an answer? I am publishing a book that is more questions in quality and feels to me like a testament to what I don't understand so far. Does this bring him Glory? I ask him, but so far I have not heard or seen much.
I started this blog post with a plea to God; “Say Something! ANYTHING! I think I get answers, but they do not come from a burning bush, (Moses - long story, look it up). Like I said before, I can only tell my story. Here is what I am doing in what I perceive to be God’s silence:
Moving - I keep moving in faith even though I do not know what the answer will be.
Praying - I petition regularly, persistently and with the knowledge that my petitions are heard but answered in his way, not my way. (Colossians 4:2)
Paying attention - God is everywhere, no new news there. God wants what is best for me.
We are all human. I want an answer, a definitive answer, not silence. I can only do what I am doing, but I know that I am not successful convincing God to answer me in my preferred way on my schedule. God will talk to me in a way that guides me, but I have to pay attention in my life to the answers, not just the answers I want to hear. The answers come in ways like actions, words of the faithful, signs and his voice through the Holy Spirit when I pray and meditate. Just because God is quiet does not mean I am alone.