Ever been there? I know, foolish question. We’ve all been in that place where it seems like God has taken a vacation and nobody is on the other end of the line. I’ve been once again reminded that place exists, and also been reminded that there are two options open to me.
It’s difficult to ride out the silence when the days drag by and the sound of silence increases exponentially. That’s when we’re faced with our options; give up or press ahead. Yes, I know, we can press ahead by doing nothing and just waiting, but that’s no different than giving up. For the bride of Christ there is only one option, press in and press ahead. But the critical issue is how? Since I’m in that place once again, let me share what the Lord has taught me about going through these dry times.(many times over, His patience never ceases to amaze me).
We need to ask ourselves the critical question… What am I asking for and why?
James 4:2b-3… ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Jesus promised us that anything we ask in His name will be granted, so why aren’t we getting an answer?
John 14:13-15 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
We need to consider the qualifiers. First, we don’t have because we don’t ask and second, we don’t have because we ask for the wrong things. In addition, we need to ask ourselves, is what we’re asking God in accordance with His will (will it glorify Him?) and are we keeping His commandments?
Matt 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Over the years, through more dry, silent times than I can count, God has always boiled it down to these key issues. Many times it’s clear that I am asking amiss; asking with some self-centered motive. The answer is to go back to the drawing board and find out what the Holy Spirit has to say about the issue. Which is usually the root of the problem because I didn’t consult Him before I offered up my petition.
At other times the line is silent because there is a love issue involved. My life isn’t focused on the first and great commandment, or there is an issue with my neighbor (Christian or not). I need to take care of those issues first, and then come back to my concerns. If love isn’t at the forefront of our petitions, we can be certain that there will be a problem in getting an answer.
Yes, those dry silent times, especially when they’re exacerbated by the serious issues facing us, can only be faced by one of two options, which we need to understand is by God’s design. I have found that in the midst of my concerns is God’s concern about some issue in my life, an issue that is more important to Him than my circumstances. That concern has ranged from drawing my attention to the need to address some issue or sin in my life to simply stretching my faith. Remember, God never leaves us at the same level of faith. The faith that was required to overcome our last challenge is never enough to meet the next one. We only grow from faith-to-faith!
So, here’s the bottom line. First, we need to keep on asking; giving up is not an option. It took the angel 20 days to fight through to deliver Daniels answer, but His prayer was heard the moment it was offered up (Dan 10:12-13). Secondly, there is one way to be certain that we’re not asking amiss, and that is to bring our requests in line with God’s will. If we’re not getting an answer, we need to check with the Holy Spirit. Am I asking in accordance with His will? If not, we need to go back to the drawing board and find out what the Holy Spirit has to say. And in the process we need to yield our will to His will and trust Him to lead us. We may not know the right prayer in our situation but He does and He wants to help us:
Rom 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
I can say that on every occasion that I can remember, when I found myself listening to silence on the other end, there was always reason that the Holy Spirit wanted to reveal to me that almost always involved my not being aligned with God’s will. The answer, however, seldom came immediately as there was something God wanted me to see, and I needed to spend time in His Word to see it. Sadly, on far too many occasions, I just continued to press ahead and kept on asking, wasting precious time that could have been better spent communing with the Holy Spirit.
Am I attempting to set forth some pat answer to the question of “unanswered prayer?” Absolutely not! What I am setting forth is the key to finding the answer, and the first step is to spend time with the Holy Spirit focusing first on the “why” and then on the “what.” Why am I not hearing from God? Is there something in me that is causing the disconnect that He wants me to deal with? Does He want to show me that I am praying amiss and not in accordance with God’s will? Or, does He want to encourage me to press ahead and not give up, to overcome the enemy’s opposition and allow God to answer in His perfect time (never too early and never too late), and in the process continue to build up my faith as I spend time in His Word.
Dry, silent times come to us all. If you aren’t going through one now, you have in the past and you will again in the future. Just remember that when God is silent, the first place we need to look for a solution is “within.” Every time He withholds His voice, withholds the answer we’re seeking, it’s for a purpose. The important thing is that we allow Him to accomplish His purpose, and that won’t happen if we aren’t submitted and obedient to the leading of His Spirit.
God has promised us that He will never leave or forsake us and that He hears our prayers. Our responsibility is to stand on the promises He has given us in His Word, and to stand on those promises in faith like our spiritual father, Abraham.
Rom 4:20-21 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
That, however, can only be accomplished if we know His promises, which we will only know if we spend time in His Word under the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit who prays for us when we don’t know how to pray. Quiet times are tough, but they’re easier to go through if we remember that God is using them for a reason. Just consider them God’s teaching moments because first and foremost our welfare is the center of the issue from His perspective.
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.