Do you ever pray and God seems silent?
Do you wonder if the problem is you or Him?
God speaks to us through his word, through prayer, through his Holy Spirit, through godly counsel, and through our circumstances.
So what do we do when God seems silent?
Let’s take a look together at Isaiah 58.
During this time, the Jewish exiles had returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple. Though they had returned, they were still caught up in the sins of idolatry, hypocrisy and indifference – essentially their hearts were rebellious.
And so God tells Isaiah in Isaiah 58:1 – don’t hold back – like a man blowing a trumpet, tell the people what they are doing wrong.
They look like they are doing the right things.
Isaiah 58:2 says:
They seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
God’s people were acting like a nation that was doing all the right things. They seemed to be a people delighting in the nearness of God but they did NOT want the nearness of God.
They were acting.
They were acting authentic. They gave the appearance of being serious about their faith but they were simply hearers of the word and not doers.
Outwardly they looked obedient but inwardly they were rebelling.
It is easy to sit and listen to sermons or read our Bibles but to actually be a doer of the word – now that is hard. That is real faith.
Some church attenders hear the word and equate that with doing the word. That’s wrong.
We hear God’s word so we will be equipped to DO God’s word.
And so Isaiah says the people were religious and had a spiritual veneer but it was all just appearances. Look at their reality in verses 3-4:
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
The people complained that they had fasted and prayed but God was not answering them. And God explains the reason for his silence.
The problem was the way they were treating each other. If they were truly seeking the Lord they would not be fighting. They were just going through the motions externally while their hearts were far from God.
Authentic Christianity is evidenced by the way we treat others.
The prosperity gospel teaches that if we do all the right things then God will bless us – God will answer our prayers yes. It’s a manipulative relationship with God where you do what he wants to get what you want.
That is not how God works.
As a matter of fact, if you try to live out your relationship with God that way, you will be frustrated. You will feel like you do all these spiritual things and wonder – what’s the benefit for me? Where are the results?
God does not want us to selfishly seek him.
God wants your genuine love.
God wants your heart.
And so in Isaiah 58, God says, you are doing all these pious things while fighting with each other. And if you do that – your voice will not be heard in heaven. Your prayers will go unanswered.
Your relationship with God cannot be separated from the way you treat other people.
God is not impressed with fake religious behavior. And so in verses 6 & 7, God tells them what would make an impression on him.
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
God wants an obedient heart.
God says, share your bread, bring homeless into your house, do not ignore your own flesh and blood. Treat others right! This is the real fruit of a real Christian.
A true relationship with God will change your relationship with people.
You cannot love God and hate people.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
1 John 4:20
Your relationship with God will affect your relationships not just one day a week on Sundays — but 7 days a week!
And when you get this right – look what Isaiah says will happen:
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
Real repentance is like the dawn of a new day. God gives you light and guidance in your life. Spiritual healing comes quickly with repentance. And God protects you. He will go before you and he’s got your back.
God answers prayer.
God answers – yes, no or wait.
And when we don’t get what we want and he says no or wait – he gives us the peace to trust him in the waiting.
If God seems silent…examine your life.
1.) Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior? Have you repented of your sin and placed your faith in him for your salvation?
2.) Are you going to church out of duty or to genuinely worship God?
3.) Is there any sin in your heart you need to repent of? Do it now.
4.) How are you treating others?
Friends, I know how painful it is when God says no. I have begged God for things and sometimes thought that I was getting silence — when really, God was answering my prayers with a “no”.
Like a toddler who begs their mom for candy – I have not wanted to accept no for an answer. But when God says no, we need to trust him. He knows what he is doing.
Isaiah 55:8 & 9 says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Trust God. He has not left you alone. He is with you and he hears your prayers.
God loves you!
Keep walking with the King,