Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

101. DOES GOD SOMETIMES ANSWER PRAYER WITH SILENCE?

Many years ago, a missionary, to the far-east, described to me his Walmart Theology.  Suppose, hypothetically, you are trying to decide whether to apply for a job at Walmart.  In those days, the internet job application did not exist.  You had to physically walk through the door and apply. 

What if you drive to the Walmart parking lot early in the morning and get on your knees facing the door.  You say, “Almighty God, if that door opens when no one else is near, then I will know that I should go in and apply for a job at Walmart.” My missionary friend said, “That approach sounds very spiritual; but the door will never open!  God is a God of action.  He expects you to get up and walk through the door. You may not get the job.  Or you may get the job and, after a while, decide it’s the wrong job for you.  But until you get up and walk through the door, your life is in neutral.”  The missionary’s point was that life can pass us by while we are waiting for the burning bush.  Sometimes, but not always, we just have to take a risk and step out in faith knowing that the stakes are high.

The tacit assumption was made, in the previous scenario, that God did not respond to the prayer for a Walmart job.  But there is another perspective.  Perhaps God gave the answer of silence, a silence that is empowering.  God may have given the silence of His pleasure, not the silence of your despair.  You might say, “I know God has heard me; His silence is proof.”  Perhaps silence is a sign of intimacy and not abandonment.