Summary: Every saint will find times of God’s silence and wonder how to deal with it. These times can help us grow in our faith and relationship with Jesus.
In my last post, I talked about how to pray genuine prayers in the prayers we offer to the Lord. In this post, I describe the silence of God, some reasons He is silent, and how to hear His voice again.
Have you ever felt like you are far from God despite your devotion, that God is silent toward you or hiding Himself? The longer you walk with Jesus, you will eventually experience this silence from God.
When you pray, you feel like God’s not even listening to you. You don’t feel His presence. You question whether you have done something or God is angry with you. If you have experienced this, I hope I can shed some light on what’s happening and how to handle it. Let’s dive in.
When the Heavens Are Brass
Have you ever felt like God was silent, that you couldn’t hear Him, that you were far from him, or he wasn’t listening to and answering your prayers? Many saints have gone through periods of time where this has happened to them.
I don’t say this to suggest nothing is wrong. But it may not be something you should feel is your fault, can’t talk about with other Christians, or should become the norm in your walk with Jesus. I say it to comfort you and show you that you are not alone.
Some saints call this phenomenon the “heavens are brass” because they feel like all their prayers are hitting the ceiling and coming back at them. St. John of the Cross calls it “the dark night of the soul.”
I mention these saints and how they have described this time of feeling spiritually alone because we must realize that others have experienced this. We are not bad Christians, fallen from God, apostate, or evil. There are reasons God hides Himself and is silent.
If you’ve ever felt like your prayers are not making a difference in your life or in the world, or you have felt like God wasn’t listening to you, you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to tell another Christian you feel this way. Any mature Christian will understand. Just because we feel this way doesn’t mean our perception of reality is correct.
What Did I Do Wrong?
Our first reaction is to blame ourselves, or wonder what we did wrong. Did I offend God? Is there something I don’t know about that I did? We beat our heads against the wall trying to figure out why we can’t hear God’s voice anymore.
We mistakenly believe this is the new norm, or how our life with Christ will be from now on. Have we matured to such a state that Jesus doesn’t need to check in on us as much? Perhaps we have reached the next level of our walk with Jesus, and this is that part of the relationship where he only talks to us if we do something wrong?
In our Western culture, we overly concern ourselves with analytics and diagnostics. If something is in the way we want it to be, we must fix it. We must figure out what went wrong and what we need to do to put it back on track.
But in our relationship with Jesus, there are two people. Could we be at fault? Possibly. Could there be another reason that doesn’t have to do with us? Possibly. I say possibly because we need to learn not to jump into these Western mindsets of fixing things. Daniel discovered God answered his prayers, but the answer was delayed because of spiritual warfare (Daniel 10:12-14).
God is not a God to be figured out. He is to be worshiped as a Person with His own mind, desires, and actions. Just like we can’t fix another person in our human relationships, we can’t get God to do what we want when we want it.
Does this leave us hopeless, waiting for God to respond as we wish we knew what was happening? Do you realize how many questions I have asked in this post already? Sometimes we are so full of ourselves that all we can do is ask questions and try to fix it ourselves.
But this should not be our approach. Sure, there are reasons God is silent. But the Bible also states that as God’s children, we are close to Him and enjoy an unparalleled relationship with Him. None of this means we need to fix it.
God Hides Himself
God can choose to be silent. We can’t understand why. But we see Him doing this in the Bible. Sometimes we understand why. But other times, God doesn’t give a reason. We must become okay with God not giving us a reason. While Jesus reveals many things about His nature to us, no rule forces Him to explain everything. God never tells Job why he suffers.
God is transcendent, with an eternal perspective, perfect judgment, immortal and infinite. Many times His infinite explanations boggle our finite minds. So why should He explain things to us? His explanations and answers I receive may ask fifteen questions in the place of the one I already asked.
People throughout Scripture have discovered this phenomenon of God hiding himself. Job suffered great affliction and considered God’s silence as God counting him as His enemy (Job 13:34). In Deuteronomy 13:17, God hides Himself in His anger for sin.
The psalmist, particularly David, found God’s silence and hiding Himself occurring often (Psalm 10:1; 13:1; 44:24; 55:1; 88:14, 46; 104:29), God hiding his face shows His rejection of Israel, even as they face afflictions and oppression. It’s amazing how much the Psalms talk about God hiding Himself.
Isaiah mentions God’s hiddenness referring to wicked Israel (Isaiah 1:15. But “hidden” is not the only word or phrase the Bible uses to talk about God hiding Himself. He tells Israel He hides Himself to see if they will diligently and intensely seek Him (Proverbs 8:17; Jeremiah 29:13).
And Jesus tells the Jews they will seek Him and not find Him (John 7:34, 36). He refers to going to the Father. Jesus would not be with them forever in physical form. These are examples the Bible gives us of God hiding Himself.
Why God Is Silent
In some ways, we will not know why God is silent. It does not last forever. God’s silence can teach us, draw us closer to Him, and show His disdain for our sins. So, we must consider some possibilities for God’s silence.
First, a common reason God hides from His people is because of sin, rebellion, and hard hearts. We must consider the possibility that we are living in unrepentant sin. Have you asked Jesus to forgive you of sins? We have such a wonderful promise that Jesus forgives confessed sin out of his justice and righteousness (1 John 1:9).
We must be pure and holy before the Lord and in this world. If God is silent, examine yourself to confirm you are living for Him without spot or blemish. The Bible says God searches us and knows us (Psalm 139:23-24).
We can see this as encroachment and resent it, or we can thank the Lord that He searches our hearts and knows us well. We should count it a blessing that God searches us and exposes our faults before we anger Him and incur His judgment. Let us examine ourselves, listen to our Lord, and live holy lives so we can dwell with Him.
Another reason for God’s silence might be that we do all the talking. How many times do we offer prayers with laundry lists of requests and not give God a word to speak? We don’t listen to God’s voice, and so He is just waiting to speak to us.
Leave moments of silence and solitude, waiting on the Lord so you can hear His voice. This takes time and effort. It takes patience. We must give effort to learn and how to hear God’s voice. He may be silent, waiting for you to take the time to hear His voice.
God wants us to enjoy a rich and beneficial relationship with Him. If we take Him for granted, expecting things from Him without putting in quality and quantity of time, why should He do everything we want without getting anything from us? Your closest family members and friends expect to grow in relationship with you, and so does Jesus.
How desperate are we to spend time with Jesus, to hear His voice, and to build relationship with Him? If He sees no effort from us, why should he put forth the effort on His? Do we only cry out for His help and deliverance in times of trouble without spending times of blessing with Him? We must examine our motives for reaching out to Jesus.
What Do I Do?
We grow when God hides Himself and is silent. Sometimes we learn there’s nothing to do but wait on Him, press in to His presence, and devote ourselves to Him with more fervor. Devote special time to prayer and fasting. Spend more time in the Word and prayer.
Other times, we may know what to do but don’t want to do it. We don’t want to go through the discipline our sin has caused. But we must. If we offend God, the separation of our relationship with Him drives a wedge between us until we address it.
Check to see if you are abusing your relationship with Jesus. When we don’t put in the time and effort to know God and grow deeper in our love for Him, God may be silent to draw us closer to Him. Stop doing so many things for God without nurturing and cultivating your relationship with Him. Put your relationship before your deeds so you don’t forget your First Love (Revelation 2:4).
This has been one of my heavier teachings on being conformed to Christ and learning to walk with Him, to be His disciple. So I want to and our discussion of God’s silence by talking about when God hides us as our Shield from the wicked plots of evil people and the dangers of this life.
Muddling through the mire of God’s silence in our lives teaches and guides us. Even when God does not speak or we presume His silence or absence, God still ministers to us. He can be working in the background of our lives without us knowing.
We must be thankful God not only hides Himself from us to help us grow, but He also protects us from the dangers of this life (Psalm 31:20; 32:7; 119:114). He watches out for each of us, even even if we don’t realize it. He loves us, even when He challenges us with His silence.
If you are walking through a time of God’s silence, take the steps I have given in this teaching to your relationship and trust God in His silence. Draw closer to God. Cast off sin. Wait on the Lord, and learn to hear His fullness. Show your dedication to Jesus.
Now that we have described God’s silence and how we can grapple with it, I want to turn next to the weird prayers we pray, the things we pray that don’t make sense to us.