The Silent Treatment- What To Do About Un-Answered Prayer

June 24, 2013

Ever feel like you've been getting the silent treatment from God in your prayers? Check out this reflection from Radial's worship leader Brandon Schmidt!

Any look into the pages of scripture will show you that God answers prayer. There are seemingly countless stories of God hearing His people and being faithful to their cries. In ways big and small, from the beginning of time, God has been on the move, at all times, for us. Today we hear stories all of the time from friends or family of answered prayers, and most of us have experienced His faithfulness in one way or another in our walks with Him.

But what happens when our prayers haven’t been answered?

If I’m being honest, the topic makes me a little uncomfortable. I know that God answers prayer, and I have seen evidence of that in my life time and time again. But why is it that sometimes it just feels like my prayers are hitting the ceiling? Sometimes, because of this, I find myself praying prayers without 100% certainty that He will answer. I leave open that room for the chance that God might not respond and instead give me the silent treatment.

“The Silent Treatment” has been the theme of our current sermon series at Radial, and it has really made me think about the reasons why God might seem silent. While sometimes we jump to place the blame on God, the first place we should start is to look at our own prayers. Are we treating God like a genie in a lamp or our prayers like a checklist of requests? Are the prayers simply selfish wishes that only bring glory to ourselves? Are we only coming to Him when we need something? (Relationships with spouses, family members, and friends never work when we treat them that way. Our relationship with God is no different.)

Sometimes our prayers have become such a routine that there’s nothing heartfelt about them. We go on autopilot, repeating the same words over and over every day, and we leave it at that. We’re like prayer robots, spouting off the same thing daily as we cover our bases of what we feel is a proper prayer. But our prayers should come from the deepest parts of our hearts. We should be speaking openly and honestly, with thanksgiving and praise, to the One who knows every corner of our selves already. And along with that, we have to listen. Much easier said than done in this day and age, sometimes we just need to turn off the noise and listen for Him to speak to our hearts. Engaging with God actively in our prayer life is the first step to know Him in a deeper way and truly experience the power of prayer.

Something Dustin pointed out in his message at the past Night of Worship has stuck with me ever since. In Matthew 7:9-11, it says, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him” (NIV). Sometimes our prayers are simply asking for stones when we think we’re asking for bread, and what might seem like a fish to us is really a snake. God knows what’s best for us, and a good Father will only give good gifts.

Our prayers need to come out of us with boldness, specificity, and heartfelt meaning. But in the face of unanswered prayers, we must also have faith that God knows how to answer us in His timing, in His way. It’s always incredible to me to look back in my prayer journal and see the places God worked in my life and answered me, in ways that were so much better than I ever imagined. When I thought I knew what I needed, I was dead wrong. God sees the entire map of our lives, while we have only a tunnel vision view of our journey. Let’s cling to that hope that God holds our world in His hands and is actively at work among us, whether we may see always see it or not!
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