Jennifer Slattery Christian Blog and Commentary

When God Answers Our Prayers with Silence

This was not the time I wanted God to answer my prayers with divine silence. I needed “a word.” My prayer partner was waiting with hope-filled expectation. I could see this in her eyes, and I so wanted to provide the assurance or encouragement or guidance she craved. I wanted to give her what she’d given me.

Let me lay the backdrop. This was the first day of a writers and speakers conference known for its spiritual impact. The host, Linda Shepherd, always creates space for attendees to connect with the Holy Spirit, hear from Him, and live empowered by Him. Though her goals remain year to year, her methods often change. Once, she guided speakers to create a “blessing” tunnel where they each took turns walking through two lines of people who prayed for them as they passed.

This year, she told us to gather into twos and threes and ask God what He had to say to our prayer partner. Then, she gave us a few minutes to listen. I did. My partner did. Everyone else in the room did, and many received powerful revelations. Some “heard” from God in pictures. Others spoke words of affirmation and encouragement, and still others declared freedom for those experiencing some form of emotional slavery.

When it came my time to listen my partner, what she told me left me humbled and in awe. Her words were beautiful and inspiring, delivered with radiant joy and passion. I felt bolstered to surrender deeper into my calling, entrusting my career and plans to Christ.

Then it was my turn to speak, and I wanted to say something. Something powerful and Holy Spirit initiated. Anything! But I had … nothing. No word, no whisper, no picture or impression. Oh, I felt His presence. Strongly. I knew He was there with me. Though I wanted to “pretend” God had provided me with a clear and transformational revelation, integrity forced me to say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear anything.”

Her face fell, as did my heart, but then it came time for us to switch partners. Unfortunately, when I paired up with the next attendee, I experienced the same thing. She went first, shared a beautiful message from God to me, then waited with expectation. But all I could say, once again, was, “I’m sorry. I got nothing.”

For the next ten minutes, I listened to others share all the ways God had encouraged them through their prayer partners. And initially I was tempted to feel insufficient. Discouraged. Why hadn’t God spoken to me like that? Were these other women somehow more spiritual? Closer to Christ than I was? But I’d felt His presence so clearly, as I sat there asking, waiting, for Him to speak. I felt engulfed in His love and knew, in that moment, surrounded by Him, that He was pleased with me.

Yet still He chose to remain silent. As He has so many times in the past. I’ve learned, God doesn’t always answer my prayers as I’d like. He doesn’t always answer my prayers at all. But when He does, His voice is clear and reiterated. Here’s why: He’s a good, good Father. He loves me and wants what’s best for me. More than that, He wants me to know Him deeply. That truth counters any anxiety or feelings of insufficiency that can arise during periods of silence.

Scripture reveals numerous times and ways God spoke to His children. He met them in dreams, through a burning bush, visions, and apt words spoken by others. We know He doesn’t change. This means, He still speaks, in just as many unexpected ways. But we also know when He speaks, we’ll hear Him.

In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (ESV). In other words, He wants us to hear Him. Learning to discern His voice, however, takes time and practice. Just as sheep come to recognize the voice of their shepherd as he cares for them day in and day out, so too we learn to distinguish God’s heart-whispers from the noise all around us.

And in times of divine silence, we learn to wait. To trust, knowing God loves us, promised to guide us, and to teach us all things.

Let’s talk about this! How do you most often hear from God? How do you respond to periods of silence? Can you share any examples or stories with us?    

If you haven’t yet, make sure to check out Wholly Loved’s Bible reading plan, available on the YouVersion app, 30 Days of Emotional Health. You can find it  HERE.

And, fun news! Today is release day!

My next novel, Hometown Healing, released today! You can grab a copy HERE or at your local Walmart or Barnes and Noble store.

Here's more about the story:

She’s home again, but not for long…Unless this cowboy recaptures her heart

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

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