Exodus 17:8-13, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2, Luke 18:1-8
12 Things to do When God Seems to be Silent
It is always frustrating after exercising your faith, believing in God, praying to Him over a particular situation, and nothing happens at last.
Also, It is always discouraging and challenging to sacrifice a lot, to make sure you are very close to God, but in times of trouble, it will look as if God leaves you to suffer.
It is highly frustrating and depressing when God seems to be silent to your requests. How do you feel when after fasting, crying, praying, singing praises, and doing all the necessary things required, yet everything seems to be locked up?
The time of God’s seeming silence is one of those tempting times that challenges our faith and love for God. Imagine how depressing it is always when we hoped that our testimonies must surely come to pass, yet at last nothing happens.
When you read through the readings of this Sunday, you may conclude immediately that the readings are just focusing on being persistent in prayer, no. The lessons of today’s readings go beyond this to help us understand what we have to do when God seems to be silent to our prayers.
From these readings, we have to sieve out twelve things to do when God seems to be silent. We shall take them one by one.
Hence, before we proceed, it is good also to note that what is happening to you right now, did not and is not happening to you alone. We have to understand that many of God’s beloved have experienced what we call “dry moments” in their spiritual journey. Let us take a brief look at the bible first.
When God is Silent to His Beloved Ones.
Before we proceed, when we go through the scriptures we shall see people who are strongly devoted and close to God. There are moments these people expressed their emotions to Him, but He seems to be silent.
What is so glaring in these times, is that God did not truly abandon them. In all these times of seeming silence, there are things He is doing out of them.
The reason, I try to go through these is to encourage many of us who have lost hope in God because our prayers were not answered the way we expected.
We have to know that God is not ATM or a genie that must obey us when we command it. When He seems to be silent, His seeming silence may still be an answer to the prayer. Let us look at these moments of God’s silence:
1. First is the encounter between Elijah and Jezebel. Did you remember how powerful Elijah is? Did you remember all the mighty works, He did and how even invoked fire from heaven? Elijah was a strong man of God. God used Him to do mighty things.
Now, did you remember that when Jezebel had threatened to kill Elijah, the powerful prophet ran away, (read 1 Kings chapter 19).
Did you remember that the mighty prophet Elijah even abandoned his servant at Beersheba? In this time of great challenge, Elijah did not remember again how to pray down fire from heaven, rather the miracle-working prophet ran away and prayed that he might die.
God was silent to him, and he voiced out saying “I have had enough, Lord, “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors”.
Hence, this time became a moment, Elijah had an encounter with God in a gentle breeze. After, the seeming silent moments comes a time of great encounter and upliftment at another level in the spirit world.
Elijah thought God was silent but God uses that encounter to tell Elijah that He was not silent. He proved to him that despite those times of seeming silence, Elijah was not alone.
Then, it was this that led to the appointment of Elisha, as a replacement for the servant Elijah abandoned when He was running away.
Maybe without these silent moments, Elisha would not have been chosen. Every seeming silent moment has a reason and the reason may still be for our good.
2. Let us walk through the garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:39 and Luke 22:42, when Jesus even prayed with tears saying “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me”. It was as if the Father was so silent on Jesus.
Also, did you remember that when Jesus could no longer bear the pains of the cross, at the moment when Jesus dies on the cross, he shouts from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
We see this in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. We imagine the pains, tears and suffering He is undergoing, yet the Father keeps silent.
I was expecting there would be something like thunder from heaven to intervene, but still, the Father seems to be silent.
The point here is that God has a reason for this which is the reason Jesus comes to the world. God is more interested in the reason Jesus comes to the world.
In essence, when God sets you on the journey to your destiny, there could also be a lot of sacrifices you have to make. There could be some challenges and difficulties you must face.
Those sacrifices do not mean God hates you or that He is keeping silent but they are part of the processes and part of the requirements for the greater things that lie ahead of you.
Hence, during these times, your friends come to deceive you that one spirit is calling you or that someone is behind your predicament. Or sometimes we give up along the way. When God seems to be silent, it can be for a reason best known to Him.
2. Do we also remember that David was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). King David knew God deeply, but at some points in his life, he felt like the Lord had forsaken him. David cried to God when Saul and His son Absalom wanted to eliminate His life.
It took David several years and it was as if God was so silent on Him. He waited to the extent that he cried in Psalm 28:1-5 – “Unto You will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if you are silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit”.
In Psalm 22, he also cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel”.
Still, God allowed David to pass through all these. But one thing is sure, there was victory at the end. When God seems to be silent. It is not that those times are the end of you. There is also a greater destiny ahead. There is also a time of Victory.
Many different references abound. Hence, let us keep to these.
One of The Reasons to hold on to God When He seems to be Silent.
1. The reason, Jesus tells the parable in the gospel is not necessarily because the widow was persistent nor to tell us that whenever we are persistent over a request, we must get what we want.
In that gospel, Luke outlines that Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. In essence, we have to pray and not lose heart, because we are praying to someone who is ever compassionate and full of love. We are praying to a Father.
1b. The aim of prayers is not necessarily to get something from God. The aim of prayers is to bring us closer to God, this is the main essence of prayer.
This is the reason I always tell us to come close to God because we love Him, not necessarily because we have a need so that in those seemingly dry and silent moments, we will not lose hope in God.
2. Remember that, in that parable, the request was made to a judge who does not even fear God or man. So, if this man can grant the widow her request, what of God who is so compassionate, loving and extra merciful? What of Jesus who could not withstand the tears of the widow of Nain in Luke 7:11-17, the cry of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52, the request of a thief in Luke 23:42 etc?
3. If the judge who does not fear God can grant a request because the woman always comes to his presence, what of Jesus who could not withstand seeing the crowd die in hunger in Matthew 14:13–21; Mark 6:31–44, that he was moved to give the crowd, despite how large they are, everything they had. Jesus fed the crowd out of pity. Let us remember this when God seems to be silent on us. He is full of love and must not necessarily be silent on you.
4. The point is that why it is this way, is because you gave up and lost faith easily. In fact God is so disappointed that you gave up on Him because of a challenge or a need.
God is disappointed that you gave up on Him, and neglected His love all this while. Only that, He decided to test you in this one. God became so disappointed.
He thought that you love him but now He knows that the reason you come to Him is only because of the things He will do for you. When God seems to be silent, do not forget that He may be testing how you truly love Him.
The Things We are to do When God Seems to be Silent.
When we pray and it seems as if our prayers are not answered, there are still things we are to do. Do not be discouraged.
These seemingly silent moments can be golden. Those moments can be moments of trial and test. They can also be moments God is working on us for a thing that lies ahead of us.
They could be happening because it is the will of God that they must happen. Hence, in every challenging moment, let us keep our faith strong and hope our alive. This is the main message of today’s gospel. Therefore, from the readings, these are what we can do when God seems to be silent.
1. Seek the Support and Prayer of Others.
The first point that we have to gather from the parable in the gospel is that the widow who had something against his enemy did not fight the battle alone. She came seeking the help of a judge to help her.
James 5:16, says “pray for one another, that you may be healed”. Therefore, we need the support and prayers of others.
In the book of Job 42, God told Eliphaz who is a friend of job that He is very angry with him and his two friends because they have not spoken the truth about God, as Job has.
God then instructs him to take seven bulls and seven rams and go to Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for themselves.
God instructs them that His servant Job will pray for them. Hence, God will accept the prayer of the job and forgive their mistakes.
So, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. In verse 10, After Job had prayed for his friends, God restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
This is the reason, booking masses are very important and very powerful. At the Holy Mass, the priest continues to pray for you, while you also pray for yourself. It is very good to ask or seek the prayers of others.
2. This is what happened in the first reading. When the Amalekites attacked Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Pick out men for yourself, and tomorrow morning march out to engage Amalek.
Meanwhile, He will stand on the hilltop, with the staff of God in His hand.’ Joshua did as Moses told him and marched out to engage Amalek, while Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek.
But Moses’ arms grew heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him and on this, he sat, Aaron and Hur supporting his arms, one on one side, one on the other; and his arms remained firm till sunset.
With the edge of the sword, Joshua cut down Amalek and his people. Imagine what would have happened if Moses was not supported by Aaron and Hur.
This is why many family problems can never be won by a single person suffering himself/herself with fasting.
When a problem involves the entire members of the family, the family must come together and seek the presence of God.
We need multi hands in some spiritual battles and not a single hand. Battles are won easily when people come together to fight both the physical and the spiritual war.
In essence, God may seem to be silent, or you may have gone tired easily because you are fighting alone. Jesus says, where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there (Matthew. 18:19–20).
2. Before You Come to Him, You must believe without a doubt that He can do What You ask for.
There is no need to come to God if you do not believe He can do it. If you do not have this type of faith, sorry, you will lose hope when God seems to be silent.
Before the widow comes to the judge, she knows and believes that the judge has what it takes to save her, otherwise she would not have persistently come to the judge.
It is only when you strongly believe that God can do what you ask for, is when you will continually seek His presence, even when God seems to be silent.
The author of the book of Hebrews points out two important conditions for anyone who wants to come to God’s presence. Read Hebrews 11:6, the author says:
And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Therefore, the First, condition is that anyone who comes to God must believe that truly God exists. The reason many Catholics do not go to mass or book masses is that they are yet to be convinced of the power of the Holy mass.
The reason many Catholics do not pray their rosary is that they do not understand the power of the rosary. Also, the reason many of us lose faith in God is that we see God as someone who does not truly exist, or that God is just an imagination.
Any person who desires to draw near to God must have a deep-rooted belief that God is real. This is not mere intellectual knowledge. It is not just because of what you read on paper but a wholehearted devotion to His presence and a strong relationship with Him.
Without a genuine conviction that God exists, it is impossible to remain close to God, when He seems to be silent to your prayers.
The Second condition is that we must believe “that God rewards those who earnestly seek him.” in the gospel, despite the seeming silence of the Judge, I strongly believe that the widow believes that the judge is capable of listening to her. That is why she keeps pestering him, otherwise, why is she wasting her time?
So, in the same manner, we have to do the same, according to Hebrews 11:6. This is when we trust in God’s character as a good, loving, generous, gracious, ever-willing, Almighty and merciful Father (James 1:17; Psalm 84:11; Lamentations 3:22–23).
3. Keep on coming to Him even When He seems to be silent.
What I so much admire in the persistent widow is that the more, the judge is persistent in delaying her, the more she is persistent in coming to the presence of the judge.
This widow teaches us that when God seems to be silent, it is not a condition or a reason for us to stop coming to His presence.
Hence, the seeming silence of God should be the more reason we have to come to His presence often.
This is what the Canaanite woman did in Matthew 15:21-28. It is also what the blind Bartimaeus did in Mark 10: 46–52. They kept asking, shouting at a time when it seems Jesus does not want to listen to them.
Something hard to break does not anymore need soft handling, rather we have to match it with strength to strength until it breaks.
Therefore, we have to intensify our relationship with God, when he seems to be silent. Keep on coming to Him just as the widow did.
Also, in the first reading, Moses continues to raise His hand and did not think of giving up until the battle is won. This is a great message for us. In essence, the spiritual battle is not for the weak, it is for the strong.
4. When God delays, We have to be patient.
When the judge was delaying the widow, the widow did not bother, She did not complain. At the time of the delay, there was no mention of a time she was frustrated. She did not worry.
One very important virtue that this woman exhibited was patience. Patience is not just waiting on God, no, Patience consists in hoping, believing and expecting something to happen even the time it seems to happen has passed.
Patience consists in waiting on God because of the deep trust that you have in Him. It is expecting God to do something when it seems He is delaying.
Patience is when we can be strong against the odds because we know that the person we are waiting for o, does not disappoint.
Therefore, when God seems to be silent, we have to be patient like the persistent widow. You may have some delays but that does not mean God will not fulfil His promises.
5. It’s not about the length of your prayer, it’s the strength of your faith.
When you look at the request of the widow in the gospel, we see that God is not interested in how long our requests are.
A simple request with strong faith is more powerful than a long request without any atom of faith. The request of the persistent widow is simple.
The request is “I want justice from you against my enemy!”, this is like the simple request of the Blessed Virgin Mary in John 2.
Her request was “they have no wine”, and the request of Bartimaeus was “Jesus son of David, have mercy on me”.
The repentant thief only says “lord remember me in your paradise” These people teach us that a simple request backed with trust and strong faith works great wonders. Therefore, what it means is that, when we pray, we have to mean what we say.
6. Trust God’s Time.
Another thing we have to discover in the first reading is that the first time, Moses raises the staff of God is not when the Amalekites were defeated.
We were not told how many times he raises his hands. Also, it is quite obvious that when the Judge intervened in the case of the persistent widow, is not the first time she requested it.
Secondly, when the judge intervened or decides to intervene in the case of the woman was not determined by the woman.
The judge decided when he intervened. Therefore, in the same vein, when God seems to be silent, we have to trust His time.
When He will answer our prayers may take us unawares. God decides when He is to answer. We are not to determine for Him. Let us always trust His time. God’s time is the best.
7. Keep believing, keep praying, and keep working.
Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka says “pray until something happens”. So, when God seems to be silent, we have to keep believing, keep praying and keep working.
It is not a time to give up on God. The persistent widow was persistent and this is why the judge says “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’
Therefore, Be the type of person who is passionate about prayer because that is the kind of person who will also be effective in prayer!
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and God will open the door for you.” (Luke 11:9,).
In the first reading, Joshua did not stop fighting even though Moses was tired. Even when the Amalekites are winning, Joshua keeps fighting.
Also, Moses keeps raising His hands even when it is obvious that He is becoming weak. Therefore, when God seems to be silent, keep believing, keep asking, keep praying and also keep working. Your open doors will happen to you by surprise one day.
The woman did not get down, therefore, do not get down even when it is obvious that all hope is lost. Remember that in God there is no limitation.
8. Do not Conclude when God has Not.
We have to know that even if it seems that everything is late for us, it may not be the same for God. Therefore, do not conclude that it is already late when it is not.
In the gospel, Jesus says “For a long time he refused, but at last, he said to himself” Remember that word “for a long time, he refused”, therefore, it took quite a long time.
The persistent widow may have concluded that it is already late. At last, her breakthrough came. Therefore, do not conclude your case or matter when God has not. Do not be fast to lose hope when God is yet to answer. When it seems God is silent, do not conclude immediately until God concludes your case.
9. When you cry to God.
After the parable, Jesus says “And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them?”.
In essence, God cannot be so heart-hardened to see your tears morning and night and keeps quiet, unless he has a reason for what is happening at the moment.
I have said before that crying can be an effective means of prayer. Do not waste your tears. Go to the Blessed Sacrament and cry it. God always wipes away our tears. When we cry in His presence, we easily attract His mercy.
10. Be on the Side of Faith, not Your Worry.
In the gospel, Jesus asks “when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’” Therefore, it means that in our times of great challenges, in those times when it seems that God is silent, we have to be on the side of faith and not on the side of doubt. Stay faithful. What God demands is our faith and not our worry.
11. Even When Faith seems to disappoint, remain faithful.
When your faith seems to disappoint, the best thing is not to shift to a lack of faith. It is not also the best option to lose hope or to worry, the best option is not to start questioning God.
The persistent widow did not do any of these. Moses did not do any of these. When it seems that Moses was failing, they have to find support for him.
Therefore, when your faith seems to go down, when it seems to disappoint, do not lose it. Rather, find a place and hang your faith there.
12. Always Remember His Word.
In the second reading, Paul tells Timothy that, All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, refuting error, guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be holy.
This is how the man who dedicates himself to God equips himself and becomes ready for any good work. Therefore, to equip ourselves spiritually we need the word of God.
In the moments of seemingly God’s silence, in our spiritual battles, Paul advises us in Ephesians 6:17 to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
1. What we have to know in all these is that God can still turn any situation around. It is not yet over until over. Let us not give up or lose faith when God has not done so. In the presence of God, no situation is a dead end.
2. Do you agree with me that the day you may give up may be the day, God may decide to answer? Imagine if the woman stops coming to the judge. Imagine when she turns and begins to talk against the judge. This woman teaches us to pray unlimitedly.
She is teaching us that we do not have to do three days of prayer and lose hope. We do not have to do one monthly program and become tired already. The woman teaches us that our prayer must be in season and out of season.
She teaches us that if we truly need something from God, we must truly show it in our prayers, words and actions.
Our problem is when we do 21 days of prayer and then go back to sleep. Or when we try to follow the October devotion and later go back to where we are, No. God needs us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
3. Sometimes when it seems God is silent, may also be a time of the test. Sometimes we feel as if God is far and a million miles away. It’s easy to think something must be wrong. But remember, this could be a test. Therefore, we have to pass the test.
So, Keep stretching, praying, and believing. After the moments of silence, comes a time of breakthrough. So, when God is silent, let us not assume He hates us or that He has abandoned us or is mad at us. He is right there with you, even during the test.
His silence is a sign that He has great confidence in you and He has prepared you, and now He is watching to see if you have learned. He knows you will come through the test victoriously or He would not have permitted you to be tested. Keep being your best with what you have.
4. Therefore, beloved, just as the widow’s case one day came to pass, this too shall pass. One day, everything shall come to pass. The day of joy is coming. God will remember you one day.
Just as the judge remembered the persistent widow even though she did not expect it, God will also remember you when you least expect it.
Therefore, When God seems to be silent, always remember that this too shall pass. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
May God bless you and give you the grace to overcome your challenges. Amen
N/B (This particular Breakfast with the Word is sponsored by Anonymous, who prays for God’s intervention in His problem.
So, do not forget to, drop a word of prayer for him. May he also be a partaker of the grace that comes because of the people that this reflection will help or touch their lives. I also ask priests who will see this to remember him in your masses).