Written by Bennie Mostert
Sometimes we hear nothing from heaven for a while. Many Christians testify about this silence – they are just not hearing God. These silences often have nothing to do with sin or a definite wrong that has been committed.
Without hearing God, life seems meaningless. However, when there is silence, God is not absent. God is in the ‘silence’. Whether we can hear Him – through His Word or in any other way – He will eventually mysteriously speak to us through a ‘still small voice within’, saying: This is the way, follow in it. (Matthew 10:28).
Sometimes, whatever you do – whether you speak, cry, lament or sing – it seems as if no one is listening. When it feels like no one is hearing your complaint or request, wait. What should be our response in times of complete silence and God’s seeming absence?
How do you pray in such situations? If you move, which direction will you go? Choosing your own way can lead to more confusion and without any direction. You can become angry, frustrated, disappointed, disillusioned – all these emotions will not spark any response. Whatever you do, whether impressive or insignificant in your own eyes, you just know it is empty and will come to nothing.
When you read the Psalms, you will often hear David say: Lord, where are you? Why are you silent? Why don’t you speak to me?
What must we do in such times? Wait.
Focus on Jesus. In Hebrews 1:2 we read: “…in these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son…”. So often, we want to hear something from God, forgetting that He speaks through Jesus. Find your way to Jesus. He is the beginning of the answer. Jesus is the vine, and only as we learn to abide in Him our lives become meaningful (John 15). Let Jesus be the centre of your life. Normally, we have to first “re-centre”. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, creates, recreates, restores, directs, assigns, guides, leads, accomplishes and gives hope, meaning, comfort and destiny. He gives life! Therefore: Wait. Wait for God to speak. At the appointed time, He will speak. Waiting will look different for everyone. But we have to wait until He speaks.
What are your motives? Have a good look at your heart. Ask yourself the following questions honestly: What do I really want from God? Do my desires reflect God’s heart for the billions of people who dishonour the Name of Jesus or have never heard his Name, the desperations of the poor, the pain of the orphaned, abused and the refugees? What are my tears and sighs about? Am I just living for myself, my own ambitions and comfort? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you.
Be careful: Do not light your own fires. Sometimes we are wrongly tempted to “just do something.” We often encounter people who advise us: “God helps those who help themselves. It is in the Bible.” No, it is not in the Bible. Sometimes, the wait is accompanied by the feeling of darkness. Do not light your own fires! Read Isaiah 50:10-11 carefully: “Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God. Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled – this you shall have from My hand: you shall lie down in torment.” It is basically saying: When you sit in darkness, do not light your own fires.
Almost always, the bigger problem is that we are not doing the things we know God has already commanded or shown us.
You must come to a place where God is enough for you – just God and Him alone. A place where it will not be God plus what you can do for yourself or even for Him. He is waiting for you and when you get there, you will find that He is enough – for this life and the one to come. Focus on your relationship with God, not on an answer. From that place of safety, He will talk to you – things beyond what you can imagine.
When you do not know what to do and heaven is silent, make a firm and deliberate decision to wait and stop everything. To wait is difficult. You will have to make this decision over and over.
What do we do “during” the wait?
Return to God and focus on God. Do not just wait for Him to “speak.” Ask Him to reveal more of Himself and His character to you. Ask Him to teach you more about His ways and why He is working in a particular way.
Read your Bible. Large portions of it at a time, as far as possible. Do not try to “hurry” God. Do not read to “quickly find a verse that will show you what to do.” Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you better understand God and the message of Scripture.
Ask others to pray. It is not wrong to ask people to pray with us, but always remember that our “answer” must come from God. It is much better if you can wait till God speaks. Be careful to seek prophetic words, dreams, visions and extra-ordinary manifestations. God does speak in these ways, but His soft inner voice is His most common way of speaking to us.
Check your heart’s attitude. When you pray, ask yourself: “Am I moaning, am I grumbling, am I impatient with God, do I feel God isn’t fair, am I complaining? Is there rebellion in my heart? Is what I want to do really honouring God?” Often these questions reflect our heart’s attitude of being dissatisfied with how God is treating us. Take time to admit and confess this before Him honestly. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the deep attitudes and motives of your heart.
His sheep hear His voice
Do not be concerned that you might miss His will, that you will not hear Him. You may ask: “How will I know when God speaks?” You will know. When God speaks, you will know. Trust Him for it. He knows how to make himself known to you. Let this be the least of your concerns. John 10:1-11 says very clearly that His sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd. When God speaks, you will be able to recognise it.