Christians who are deeply rooted in their faith understand the immense importance of prayer. It is more than just a ritualized act; it is a dialogue with the divine, a communication with the Almighty himself. This conversation has a transformative power, a power that changes the nature of the person praying. Christians believe that they not only send their words to God, but that a response or at least a change takes place within themselves.
However, prayer is not just a one-way street, but a two-way exchange between the human and the divine. They believe that through prayer they can not only talk to God, but also achieve something with him.
The silence of God
But in this exchange there is also a reality that cannot be ignored: God is sometimes silent. Despite their firm conviction and sincere prayer, there may be situations in which God does not respond in the expected way or in which there seems to be absolute silence.
In these silent moments, one tends to interpret God’s silence as His absence. Thoughts revolve around the idea that a lack of response could indicate that God is not listening, is absent or possibly uninterested in personal communication.
Even Jesus himself seemed to experience such moments. The words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46) express a similar experience of abandonment by God.
Why is God sometimes silent? Not out of forgetfulness towards the person praying, and certainly not out of disinterest. There are moments when God has good reasons for remaining silent.
When God is silent, it could mean that he is answering us with a gentle “not now”. Our requests and wishes are often characterized by an immediate desire for fulfillment – we have our own time frame for God’s work. But the “not now” can be a challenge for us as we have become accustomed to quick fixes – a life of fast lanes, 1-day deliveries and instant news.
The difficulty is that we are in a world where getting what we want has become the instant standard. We find it difficult to accept a “later” or “not now”. Yet we should remember that there are always reasons when God chooses this path. We are called upon to face delays with trust and patience, because He may be working on our concerns behind the scenes and setting the necessary course.
Sometimes it takes time and thoughtful processes to bring about what is desired. It may elude us while we wait, but during this period of time, the very things that are necessary for our development and the success of our requests may happen. It is therefore important to receive the “not now” with a look of trust in God’s guidance.
Another reason for God’s silence could be that he is calling us to a deeper exchange. A call to more intense prayer, an invitation to silence. His silence is more than just the absence of a direct answer to our prayers. We are often so engrossed in our busy lives that we frantically bring our concerns before God and then move on. But he wants a deeper conversation. It’s easy to just send out push prayers in the midst of our busy days, but He wants more. He is calling for a deep conversation, a time of rest where he not only answers our requests but also talks to us about other things.
Trust in us
Another reason why God is silent is that he trusts us.
In Romans 12:2, Paul writes:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We often wish we could hear clear instructions from God in matters of decision. But Paul emphasizes that we can recognize the will of God when our thinking is renewed. We are then able to examine what is good, pleasing and perfect.
When we decided to move a few years ago, there were many questions – where to go? what to do professionally? in what environment? There were numerous options before us. My wife asked about my impression of God’s will. I confessed that I didn’t know, but assured her that we would make a good and wise decision. In the end, we did make a wise decision.
After everything was decided, we were visited by a pastor, a man who likes to pray after visits. He saw open doors and many possibilities in his prayer. His words were: “God wants to tell you that several doors are open to you. You can go through all of them. All are good and right.”
This image confirmed our own feeling without having heard anything from God before.
Sometimes God is silent because he trusts us – he trusts us to make a wise and good decision ourselves.