Are you wondering why God isn't answering a particular prayer of yours?
A question I hear a lot from women is "Why pray? It seems futile. God isn't doing anything about it."
My how we hate the silence of God. And yet, God does some of his best work in the quiet.
If you've been asking God to bless a certain area of your life, or deal with a certain person who is causing you grief, or maybe you're just feeling that he doesn't hear you or doesn't answer, let me offer you three things to think about:
1) God is under no obligation to bless anything that is not surrendered to him.
We get the idea that because we pray, God is obligated to answer. Yes, God is good. Yes, he is loving. But his promises and blessings are to those who are obedient to him (Psalm 5:12). We must be careful we don't confuse God's unconditional love with unconditional blessing. God makes it very clear throughout Scripture that there are requirements for his blessings (Psalm 1, 2 Corinthians 1:20).
If you want God to bless your children, you need to surrender those children to him and not try to control every aspect of their lives as if those kids were yours.
Are you following? Believe me, these are reminders to myself, as well. When I come to him in prayer I can't have the idea that he's obligated to give me whatever I ask. Instead, I need to approach God with a surrendered heart that asks: "God, am I giving to you and being for you all that you want?"
2) God is not bound to perform within our timeline.
God is eternal. That means his idea of time is different than yours and mine. God told Abraham he would give him a child. Yet, God didn't deliver on that promise for another 25 years (Genesis 12:1-4, 21:5)! God let Joseph go to prison for something he never did and when it looked like he'd be released through God's sovereignty, God didn't let it happen for another two years (Genesis 39-41)!
God may choose to wait a whopping 10 -20 years to give you something. For you and me, that seems like an eternity. To God, it is just a moment in time. And yet, his timing for your life is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4). So be patient. Sometimes God's work is in the eternal realm where you can't see it. Trust that what he does is in the scope of the billions of consequences and details that he is ever aware of and that you may never be able to see this side of heaven.
3) God may be testing your faithfulness in the silence.
Clearly, we can handle God's power, but not his silence. Yet, God does some of his best work in the dark, quiet, silent times.
In Exodus 24:17-18, the Israelites witnessed the glory of the Lord as a consuming fire on top of Mount Sinai. They heard the thundering, saw the flashing lightning and felt the earth quaking. God was real. And he was going before them. How wonderfully exciting! Yet just 40 days later, those same people who saw God do mighty wonders felt it was "so long" since they'd seen or heard anything from God that they wanted a new god. So they gave all their gold jewelry to Moses' brother, Aaron, and asked him to make them a god they could see right in front of them (Exodus 32:1). How absurd!
And yet we do the same thing, don't we?
We praise God when we see his mighty works and experience his answers to prayer, and we doubt his power and presence in the silence.
During those 40 silent days that the Israelites hadn't heard from God, he was carving his law on tablets of stone. He was on the mountaintop making a covenant with his people. But his people were down in the valley too anxious for results to wait and experience more of the glory of God.
The God who showed himself to you mightily at one time is still just as powerful in the stillness. Respect his right to be silent. Trust him in the quiet. Perhaps it is that God - who does wonders in the silence - that you need to get to know a little better before he grants you your heart's desire.
Sometimes God's refusal to answer your prayer is his way of keeping you close by...still asking, still waiting, still relying on him. Show God that he can trust you to be faithful even in the silence. Even in the uncertainty. Even in the dark.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart, and her newest, When God Sees Your Tears. For more on listening to God or growing in your marriage or personal life, see her free articles and other resources at strengthforthesoul.com.
Publication date: February 12, 2015