Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When Prayer is Unanswered & the Heavens are Silent

When Jesus ascended into Heaven the angles said to the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here gazing at the sky?” (Acts 1:11).  That’s good advice that we sometimes fail to follow.  We stand, waiting, looking to Heaven for guidance.  We wonder if anyone is listening.  But guidance has already been given - God's Word.

Why does God allow us to muddle our way through life when it would be so much easier if He sent a direct voice from heaven, an angel, or even a prophet, to tell us what to do?  Why do we have to plow our way through Scriptures for guidance?

One thought that strikes me is that if God granted us direct intervention every time we called out, we might begin viewing Him as a glorified vending machine.  Our tendency is to put in the required coins, and push the proper button-sequence to we get what we want.  Of course, Scripture and experience show us that God doesn’t operate that way.  Nor does He answer our prayers in that manner.

Perhaps His silence is to teach us self-control.  What better way to learn control and patience than to struggle onward doing the right thing when there is no apparent payback?  If we are doing the right thing only to get an immediate reward, disappointment is a very real possibility because most of time it does not come in the manner we expect.  God is sovereign.

Scripture does teach us there is reward for obedience, but that reward may not come in this life.  The author of Hebrews 11 tells us of all those listed in the “Faith Hall of Fame” who lived in faith and died in faith, "not having received the promise."  They understood that reward was not to be expected immediately.  They were desiring a “better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).

Most of the time our prayers change “us” instead of our circumstances.  When we pray our will is brought into alignment with God’s will rather than compelling Him to do ours.  This is the kind of surrendered life God desires from us.  And it is the kind of life He empowers to face any challenges.  Remember Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane?

So be encouraged when God seems to be far away, and all the wrong people seem to be reaping rewards.  God remains in control.  He may be silent, but He is not unobservant.  He may not be seen, but He sees.

If you are discouraged, lengthen your view.  Nearsightedness will cause you to give up hope prematurely.  Doing the right thing pays off in the end.  Remain steadfast, and unmovable (I Corinthians 15:58). 

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