Summary: Some reasons for why God sometimes remains silent and prayers are hindered
SBC Philippi, 7/11/04 a.m
When God Hides
Primary Purpose: To examine what some hindrances are to prayer and why God sometimes seems distant.
Have you ever had a time when God seemed absolutely silent to you? You prayed and you feel like your talking to the ceiling. I dare say that most of us have probably felt that way. You have no assurance and no peace about your situation. That is what David is expressing here in Psalm 13. It may be that this psalm was written while David ws running from Saul out in the desert. It is impossible to tell at what time David wrote this. Whatever the enemy was, it caused David anguish that God seemed so silent. He speaks as if God has forgotten Him or is hiding from him. (Read Psalm 13)
You see the pleas of a man who is honest with God about how he feels here. In this short psalm, David cries out 4 times “How long. . .”. He says he feels like God has forgotten him in vs.1. The word forget is the word shakach (shaw-kakh’) which means to ignore, forget, cease to care. Again, he’s not talking about what he knows, but how he feels. Sometimes God’s activity seems slow to many of us. We question why God has not responded sooner than He has. I heard of a great New England preacher named Philips Brooks, a man known for great poise and a quiet manner. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor liked a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Mr.Brooks?” he asked. “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t.” (From a sermon by Guy Caley, “How Long, Oh Lord). You always have to remember that just because God is silent doesn’t mean that He isn’t working.
I want to look at what some of the hindrances are to our prayers being answered. But, before I do that I just want to say that sometimes God is silent for one simple reason, so we won’t base our faith on feelings. It’s great to feel close to God, but that won’t always be the case. We have to persevere and trust Him even when He seems remote. Sometimes God seems distant, but He is only trying to build up your faith and lead you to grow up.
Other Hindrances to Prayer
1. Wrong Motives James 4:3. It matters to God why we pray for the things that we do. If our reason for asking for something is only for our own selfish gain then God sees it. He won’t honor it if we are praying selfish prayers or prayers that are birthed in self-seeking desires.
T.W. Hunt said in his book “The Doctrine of Prayer” “Selfishness brings into our experience a danger so great that God knows He cannot coddle us with answers hostile to the very thing He is working to achieve in us. I would not give a murderer a knife to pamper once of his whims. God will not risk putting into our hands a hazard in order to satisfy an unhealthy desire.” (T.W. Hunt, pgs.94-95)
God sees what is going on in the very depths of your heart. You cannot fool him. Neither can you manipulate Him and get Him to do something that He doesn’t want to do. The prophets and people of the Old Testament use to throw dust on their heads and tear their clothing when they repented and turned to God. They didn’t do this to get God’s sympathy or pity, but rather as a act of humility.
2. Lack of Faith James 1:5-8 James tells us that if you pray you should not ask in doubt for that person is “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” If you notice that almost all of the miracles that Jesus did were the result of someone’s faith.
After what is called the transfiguration, Jesus came down to the mountain. He found 9 of his disciples trying to cast out a demonic spirit from a boy. The boy’s father told Jesus when he came to him “I brought him to your disciples, bu tthey could not heal him” Look at what Jesus said next, “O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” Jesus is rebuking the disciples for their lack of faith. Later, he tells them in Matthew 17:20 that they could not cast out the spirit “Because you have so little faith, if you have faith as small as a mustard see, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” So, clearly a lack of faith can be a hindrance to prayer.