Are you wondering if God is listening to your prayers? Dr. Snyder addresses The Silent Heaven in his book, Your 100 Day Prayer-The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on God. I would like to share it with you below and trust you will find it encouraging as you continue on your prayer journey.
Have you ever prayed and prayed day and night and felt as though God just wasn’t listening? If so, you’re not alone. Listen to King David’s complaint:
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” (Ps. 22:1-2).
This has been the complaint of believers for generations. But with each new generation, we learn a few things about what our prayer life involves. Let’s start with Jesus’ life.
In John 5:16-20, we find in metaphorical language what amounts to a parable of the carpenter’s apprentice. Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (v. 19). The imagery is that of a master craftsman and his trainee, reflecting Jesus’ early learning as a carpenter. He tell us that his power in ministry didn’t come from his natural identity as the strong Son of God, Co-Creator of the universe, and second member of the Trinity, but rather from his daily dependence on God in prayer.
In other words, he didn’t take advantage of any power that wasn’t available to us. He could have, but he didn’t, because he wanted to live a human—not a superhuman—life. His power came from his “abiding place” in the Father, the same quality of life available to us by his sacrificial death on the cross.
In John 14, Jesus stated that his followers will do amazingly great things in his name. When our prayers aren’t answered, we tend to discard this promise. But praying “in Jesus’ name” doesn’t mean just saying “in Jesus’ name” (like Ali Baba saying. “Open Sesame.” in just the right tones) and every wish is granted. It means praying in his great purpose and by the same power. In other words, we have to be involved in his will for our prayers to make a difference. If heaven seems silent and God doesn’t seem to be responding to our prayers, then we need to find out if our plans and purposes are aligned with his perfect will for our lives.
In Luke 22:42, we discover the secret of Jesus’ prayer life. He ended his prayers with the qualifier, “Not my will but yours be done.” He lived out his entire earthly life with acknowledgment of the higher order of things. He was trying to teach us something we need to know. The Father has a plan and purpose far higher than ours, but the happy result of this is that his plan is us-ward. It’s designed to be on our side and for our good.
God may appear to us as silent or unresponsive to our most fervent prayers, but often it’s just that he takes his time in answering. When we pray, we want an answer no later than tomorrow. But it may be in his plan to answer a week from tomorrow or a month from tomorrow or a year from tomorrow. Sometimes it’s because the purposes of others’ lives are tied up in this one answer. Whenever the answer comes, it will be on time.
And always remember: God’s no may be only a not yet. If it’s a permanent no, then it’s for our good. If it’s a not yet, it means that his plan is in progress.