Recently I wrote about what to do during the times God is silent. It seemed there was more to be said. As I read the Scriptures – and consider my own journey with God – those times are frequent for God’s children. Sometimes it is even more than the silence of God. Sometimes I am silent in my own spiritual life. I’m not growing. I’m not as passionate about my walk as I once was. Spiritually speaking, I am stagnated.
We should not be surprised when those times come. In fact, I even believe God works through those times to prepare us for times of great spiritual growth. But, what do in those seasons where we don’t wake up every morning anxious to dive into God’s word or join Him in prayer.
Elijah had been used of God to hold back rain from the people for over three years, because of their sins. Obviously, he was not well liked as a preacher. I have learned my sermon messages people love most are when I cover a sin someone else struggles with (other than the one who loved the message) or when I address a felt need of the person who loved the message. I don’t seem to hear compliments as much from the messages which challenge someone directly about the sin in their life.
I can only imagine the stress Elijah experienced during those years. Something strikes me, however, which seems to further complicate Elijah’s situation.
Consider 1 Kings 18:1 “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.”
According to a couple New Testament passages, this “After a long time” was actually three and a half years. The famine was nearly four years long. For over three years, the people apparently continued to sin, but God said nothing. God was apparently inactive, not speaking, even to His great servant Elijah.
Now, I can only speculate here because the Bible doesn’t say anything about Elijah’s own spiritual condition. Obviously, he obeyed when a word from the Lord came, but I also don’t read he was crying out to God for a word either. We certainly read accounts of people of God who did in many of the Psalms.
Was Elijah just as quiet in his crying out to God as God was in speaking to Elijah? Could Elijah been spiritually dry? Again, I don’t know – and, I’m not suggesting I have any special insight here nor trying to make the passage say what I want it to say to make a point. But, I do know how it feels in my life when the fervor of faith isn’t what it used to be.
Have you ever been there? Has the silence of God in your life ever been eerily loud in your life? (You know, sometimes silence is so severe it’s almost loud.) And, maybe the silence isn’t just on God’s side of the communication. Maybe you are quieter than you once were in the relationship also. Have you been there?
Imagine you had been faithfully serving – God is using you – you are in constant communication with Him – and then suddenly everything is quiet.
The separation must have seemed unbearable. Elijah was disliked and unpopular. He was a social outcast from the people and the One he trusted most was seemingly absent. God would soon do a miracle through Elijah, but during this period, all Elijah could do was wait. And, how he waited during these days or how he responded to God – we simply are left to our imagination and personal experience to evaluate.
If you have been believer for very long at all, you have had periods where it seems God is nowhere to be found. And, you’ve had other periods where you weren’t looking very hard to find Him. Be honest. We often call these periods of spiritual dryness. Sometimes I refer to it as being in a spiritual funk.
What should we do during the times of silence, before the miracles of God come through for us?
(Of course, I must remind us, every breath we take is actually a miracle – and the grace – of God.)
If you are like me, you can figure out how to celebrate a miracle. You know how to deal with the spiritual highs. You don’t need much help doing those things. The tough part of our spiritual journey is figuring out what to do during the years of silence – during the years when miracles are nowhere to be found.
What do we do during the spiritual dry periods of life when we don’t hear clearly the voice of God – and maybe we aren’t listening very passionately?
Here are 7 actions I encourage you to consider:
Don’t ignore the silence.
Some of the biggest moves God has made in my life have come after a period of spiritual dryness – when it seemed like God was doing nothing in my life. And, maybe I didn’t even think I was growing. God almost always has a purpose in the quietness. Stay very close to God, even when you don’t feel like it. Go through the motions if you have to in your daily disciplines. Read the Bible – yes, even as a discipline. Attend church and fellowship with other believers. God’s power may be displayed when you least expect it. Look at the story of Elijah again. It doesn’t appear he was expecting God to speak when He did.
Confess any sin in your life.
This wasn’t the problem of silence for Elijah, as far as we know, but the problem for the Israelites was they were chasing after other gods and living lives in total disobedience to God. Sin may not be the reason you don’t sense closeness to God right now. But, just like in every relationship, if there is something you’ve done to injure it there will be a break in closeness. If repetitive and unrepentant sin is in your life it will affect your intimacy with God.
It’s never a bad exercise simply to ask forgiveness. Don’t be a martyr about it. You are saved by grace, not works, so live freely in His favor. Rest in the sufficiency of what Christ has done, but be humble enough to admit you are helpless apart from His grace.
Go back to what you know.
Get back to the basics of the faith which saved you. You’ll do it hundreds of times in your life, but you must remind yourselves of the basis of faith – the promises of God’s word. God is in control. He really is. Even when it doesn’t seem He is anywhere to be found – God is on His throne.
This is where I love to have some favorite verses in my memory to draw from when needed most. In these times I might listen to songs which were important during stronger times in my walk. Music has a way of drawing us back to another time. If I’m especially dry, I’m going to be reading in the Gospels, or some of Paul’s letters such as Ephesians or Galatians, everyday. It’s where my freedom in Christ is most clearly stated.
Choose sides again – if you need to.
You can’t adequately serve God and the world. Something happens in life, often sin, or busyness, or boredom, or a tragedy, but if we are normal, we have periods where we grow away from our close relationship with God due to the circumstances in our life at the time. God hasn’t moved, but if you’ve shifted in your loyalty to God and the place He holds in your heart, get back securely on the His side. (Remember the story of the Prodigal Son? The Father was waiting with open arms and ready to run at the moment of the son’s attempt to return.)
I find sometimes I need to rearrange my schedule to prioritize my time with God. I may need to get up earlier or spend a few lunch breaks fasting with Him. I may need to say no to some seemingly good opportunities because they are distracting me from what is most important in my life.
Trust more – Not less.
Times of silence may be filled with fear, but these times will definitely require more faith. Times come in our spiritual life when our enthusiasm isn’t as real as when we began our walk with God. This is not an indication to quit – it may be God is using this time for something bigger than you could have imagined. But it will require a deeper level of trust.
Again, this is where we need to focus on the foundational issues of our faith. I have a few sermons which ministered to me at the time and periodically I will bring them out and listen again. I want to rekindle and strengthen my faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6)
Listen and watch closely.
Some day God is going to make His plans known to you. And, you don’t want to miss! Do you think Elijah would have wanted to miss what happened to him in 1 Kings 18? Go back and read the story if you need a refresher. When God does break the silence it will be good! You will want to hear what He has to say!
Keep in mind, God may come to your personally, through His Word, circumstances or another person. You’ll need to be in a position to know God is moving.
Prepare your heart and attitude to receive.
If you mope around in your sorrows, you’ll be less prepared to receive the good things to come. I see people (and I’m just as guilty) who view the world so negatively it would take a burning bush for God to get their attention. They’ve already decided in their heart and mind everything hopeless. I’m not sure they are reading the same New Testament I’m reading!
Not because of your circumstances, but because of your faith, clothe yourself in joy as you wait for God to bless you after the period of silence. Know that what you’re experiencing is a normal part of the Christian experience. It’s a normal part of being an emotional being in a fallen world. But, our response to the spiritual dry times may help determine how long they last and how devastating they are on us – and the people around us. Consider to these words of Jesus – and apply as necessary. “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11)
Are you in one of those periods of silence today? How do you handle these periods of time?
Join the discussion 24 Comments
Why the need for God to reveal himself to humans and then quit.
It is only foolish to create your life only on what a man tells you god is.
I ilke the book that talks about a man wrestling with god and winning so god cheated and used alien powers LOL
Thanks for posting this i've gone over this many times and each time seems new to me. Any bible passages to support each 7 step enumerated above? Thanks
Gabriel, I was going to work on this but decided I may not be helping as much if I do the work on this. These are all Biblical principles. I think it would help you greatly to research each one. Get a Bible concordance either in print or online and search words like “silence” “trust” “faith” and “fear”.You'll find lots of great verses. Then if you still have questions get back with me.
The Bible say in James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble”. In other words, when your thoughts are centered upon you, you are in effect worshipping you, and God will oppose you for it. However, when you center your thoughts upon Him, you are putting His interests before yours, and you are humbling yourself by doing it. When you humble yourself below God then He can bless & hear you. http://u-open.blogspot.com/2011/02/are-you-god.ht…
It's amazing the way things can change in just nine weeks. This message hits me more today than when you posted it nine weeks ago. I've been having to wrestle with anger toward God over all of this because I know He's in control of all things so His silence means He's choosing not to talk to me.
This will probably sound stupid but mentally I kind of feel like the kid in the backseat of the car saying "are we there yet" and dad's stopped answering because I've asked it so much.
Thanks Jason. Praying for you…I've been in the kid in that back seat many times.
@ Ron… Yeah… Those Times… RGGGHHH!!! I am kind of just walking into the stuff I spoke of (Like a Huge POP in my spirit a couple of weeks ago that came w/the knowledge)… I hope that if I can keep receiving His Love… the waiting won't be so bad. Like the outcome doesn't matter so much…. You know we throw out seeds all over the ground, and the Lord grows the harvest.
In any accord… I have great respect for You- Ron… and I give You Great Honor for who You are, and how You know Him… and how He smiles @ the thought of You… You are His Beloved Miracle and His Favorite Son!!!
You are awesome Matthew!
Interesting Post, Ron!!! Really twisting me around this morning… A couple of thoughts if I may- where my perspective might be a side note to yours: Faith, I see faith as substance of God (Actual Physical Matter). Through Faith Abba spoke the world into being. I would define belief as the active choice to engage faith. Circling on top and all around Faith & Belief is Love. Abba is not the god of love, He is Love!!! I guess I can't understand the perspective of the silence of God??? Because He is never silent??? His Love & His Word are Living, Breathing, and Active… We only need to choose to receive His Love to Hear His Sweet Voice… There are times when we don't have specific answers, but I see those times as joyful anticipation- like a young child waiting for a snow filled Christmas morning. We expect His answers because He is Good, and we know how deeply He Loves. Sin will cause bondage that would prevent us from hearing and receiving the Love of the Father (I see sin as literally turning our hearts away from Him)… but bondage also could be indirect with generational bondage… or bondage from perspectives & mindsets in the world that work against the truths of the Kingdom. Very Humbly, with Gratefulness for You, Ron… and For Your Amazing- Wisdom Drenched Insightful Words…. and With Great Love for My Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ Jesus… Lord & King of All!!!
Thanks Matthew. I certainly agree God is never purely silent. Even to an unbeliever Romans reminds us that He has made Himself know so man is without excuse; even if only through His creation. There are certainly times in my life, however, where it feels as if He is silent and certainly times where He has us wait for His direct answer. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
Yes, I've been there – never want to experience it ever again, although it was an informative and formative trial. The thing that preserved my relationship with Jesus during that time was relying on "what you know " – without the intellectual affirmation of what I knew to be true, it would have been difficult to make it through.
I like that…informative and formative….Thanks
Great post Ron…these suggestions are right on the mark.
To be honest I had been in one of those times. I spent the majority of time on my knees seeking. This has been a long 6 months, but yesterday a word of hope came.
Thank you. I think this will definitely help some people…
So glad God brought you to the other side
I printed this one out because I need to digest it. Thanks for posting it. It comes at a critical time in my life and your faithfulness is impeccable.
Thanks Scott. You are a great encourager to me. If I can ever help you let me know. I’ll be praying
This was great and very helpful. People do not usually address the quiet times of God, we are so drawn to the busyness of life that we feel as though God has to conform to that in order for us to know he is still there. But God is always with us whether he is quiet or speaking and moving in amazing ways. We just need to be cognizant of his presence.
Thanks Reuel, I agree. Being aware of His presence is critical always, even more so during the times of His silence.