When God is Silent - Part 1
“Do you have a prophetic word for me?” This is the question I was greeted with when I answered the phone the other day. Not “Hi, my name is…” or “I’m ringing to ask a question…” or some other polite way of entering into a conversation and request for a prophetic word. It seemed to me, at the time, a stark, rude, demanding question. I have to admit, looking back, I didn’t handle it as well as I would have liked, and I’ve had to process that through with the Lord and learn some things from it. And out of that learning has come the content for this article.
God’s not speaking – I need a prophetic word
Why would someone do that? What would make them ring a prophet seeking out a prophetic word. Let’s start with an assumption that is actually true in most cases. People don’t usually go to a prophetic minister as their first point of call, out of laziness, or because they collect prophetic words (although some seem to). It’s usually because they can’t seem to hear God for themselves on a certain thing. That feeling of not being able to hear from God can cause many things to happen in our lives, and sometimes in order to alleviate how we feel we will do what seems to make sense to us at the time; we go to a prophetic person and ask for a prophetic word. While this can seem like a good way out of the situation, it is in reality often working against God’s best for the situation.
So next time you enter a period of time where God seems to be silent, before you go rushing off to a prophetic person to ask for a word from God, consider the following things…
God has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut 31:6; Matt 28:20; Rom 8:38,39; Heb 13:5). That is a promise that is true and will never be broken, and this time of God’s silence is a chance to step into the reality of that promise at a deeper level.
Chuck Swindoll says, “God’s silence doesn’t mean his absence. Silence is God’s call for you to grow deeper.”
God’s silence and hiddenness can be times of great revelation in our life, or they can be times of great despair, discouragement, and fear. The enemy’s purpose is plain if we recognise it – to bring us into a place of unbelief, fear and doubt about God’s nature, character, and the truth of His promises to us. God’s purpose is for that same time to be a time for building in our lives, for us to grow in our relationship with Him, our understanding of His Kingdom, and of ourselves as well.
Most of us, if we’re really honest, would love God’s presence to be tangible in our lives all the time. We love it when we feel His presence, when we sense that He is close to us, and we feel somewhat at a loss when we don’t. But that feeling of loss is not necessarily negative; it depends on what we do with it, whether we recognise its true purpose, how we process it and walk through that time. God has a purpose for the things that He does in our lives, and His seeming silence and hiddenness is full of His purposes.
There is much beauty and richness in God’s seeming silence and hiddenness if we understand it. The following quote from Graham Cooke gives us some good understanding on the purposes of God in being quiet in our lives.
That one sentence alone explains so much about God’s purposes for being silent or hidden in our lives. His silence, or hiddenness, is for our benefit, to build us up and do us good, not to scare us, discourage or reject us. God’s silence is an invitation, not a rejection; it’s an invitation to discover more of who He is, how His Kingdom works, and to know more about ourselves.
What to do in the silence
So, what do we do in times of silence? How do we approach them and use them to grow?
Understand the different ways that God communicates. Sometimes we can think that God is silent when He is not. If we don’t understand the different ways that God communicates we can expect Him to communicate only in a certain way. When He doesn’t communicate in the way that we expect, we can feel that He isn’t actually speaking to us, when He really is. For example, we might be expecting to hear the audible voice of God when He may be speaking to us through our dreams, or we may be wanting to see a vision when God is speaking through our friends. Our preconceptions can make us miss seeing God at work in our lives. For an article on the many different ways God speaks to us see my article “How God Communicates”
Know that you are not alone in experiencing times of God’s silence and hiddenness. In Scripture we see that many of God’s people experienced periods when God was silent – sometimes for years. Elijah, for example, thought that God was silent and that he was alone (1 Kings 19), yet it was not true. Part of the reason for that silence was that God was wanting to extend his understanding of the ways He communicates. Sometimes He communicates in overt ways and sometimes in quietness. Abram and Sarai experienced nearly twenty-five years of God being silent (Gen 12 – 18). All those in Scripture who experienced God’s silence had to walk by faith, holding fast to His promises to them. Many of God’s children alive today have had times of silence in their lives, too. Like you, they would have had times of questioning, of fears rising in them, and doubt. Like you they had to anchor themselves in God’s nature and character, His promises to them and His love for them. And for each of them – those in Scripture and those alive today – that time of silence did not last forever. Let the fact that you are not alone in this bring you some comfort and hope that you will hear from Him again. This is not forever.
As we’ve seen above, times of God’s silence are actually incredible invitations to growth. In the second and final part of this blog post we’ll give you more understanding on how to walk through times of God’s silence and use them to bring massive growth and increased experience of God into your life.
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