If God wants a relationship with me, then why doesn’t God speak to me or answer my prayers?

Q. If God wants a relationship with us, then why does He hide from us? God’s silence and absence, not to mention zero prayers answered, are giant stumbling blocks for me. Blocks that only God can remove. Thanks and God bless you, in Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

Let me say first that I sympathize deeply with your situation. I am sorry for the frustration, disappointment, and sense of abandonment that I hear you expressing. As a pastor, I had occasion to counsel with others in similar situations, and I have seen how painful it is and how challenging it is to continue to have faith when God seems absent.

But next let me share an observation. I have been catching up on the questions that were submitted to this blog during the time when I was unable to respond to them, and I note with interest that the other question I answered today, about the ways in which God speaks to us, arrived right around the same time as yours. I hope you appreciate that I don’t say this in any way unsympathetic to your situation, but I wonder whether the other question might have some bearing on yours. Specifically, might you be expecting God to speak to you in a certain way, and while God may not be speaking in that way, might God be speaking to you in some other way? I suggest this respectfully and hopefully for your consideration.

Beyond that, I would also suggest that you could see God as present and speaking through the very desire you feel for God to be present and speak to you. You could see that desire itself as an expression of God’s work in your heart and life. I hope that is also a hopeful thought.

I admire your acknowledgement that in the end, you must and do depend on God himself to resolve the difficulties you are experiencing. It has been said that simply in order to ask a question, we need to know at least part of the answer. And I think you ask your question, honestly and painfully, out of an awareness that God does indeed want to have a relationship with us. I hope you will see that awareness as well as something that God has given to you.

I also hope that you have Christian friends who can walk through this struggle with you and compassionate church leaders whom you can confide in and who will counsel with you. Personally I get from your question not a sense of hopelessness but a sense of hopefulness. I hear someone speaking who deeply desires a relationship with God and who is depending on God to remove everything in the way of that. May you indeed find that God grants this desire and brings you to a place of peace and joy in experiencing his presence and hearing him speak to you.

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings. He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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