You’ve prayed. However, you haven’t heard God answer your prayers. You’ve not seen anything to lead you to believe that God has even heard your petition. Why is God silent? Why is He not answering?
When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” – Acts 12:12-15, ESV
Peter had been captured by the Romans. After killing James and seeing how the Jewish religious leaders reacted, Herod ordered Peter imprisioned. Herod’s grand plan was to offer up Peter on Passover, stoke up the crowd, and then execute the follower of Christ. A satisfied populace was easier to rule, after all.
We are told in verse 5 that the Church went earnestly in prayer for Peter’s freedom. However, that prayer had not been answered. Then it reached the night when Herod would bring Peter out. Still the Church continued in prayer. It was then when God sent an angel to free Peter. So complete was God’s involvement that Peter walked right by two guards without being stopped. God had answered. And God answered in a way that showed only God could have done it.
Peter’s freedom was completely unexpected. Rhoda is so shocked she leaves Peter at the gate. When she goes and tells the people praying that Peter is there and not in prison, they call her crazy. When she wouldn’t back down, they said she must have seen Peter’s angel. They couldn’t believe Peter had just walked free.
Sometimes God waits for the perfect timing. God freed Peter at a point where no human could take credit. Sometimes it’s not that God doesn’t hear but it’s that His timing doesn’t coincide with ours. We are impatient and we want an answer RIGHT NOW. But the timing is wrong. So God doesn’t answer, yet. Such was the case with Peter.
Sometimes God answers in a way we just don’t expect. I’m sure as they prayed, the believers came up with many scenarios on how Peter could be rescued. Some probably even involved Herod having a change of heart. However, it is unlikely that any honestly thought that God would set things up where Peter could just walk out. We are looking for and expecting certain outcomes that we can’t see it when God moves in a different way. That was the case here.
And sometimes God doesn’t answer in our favor because there’s something bigger at stake. Peter had been grabbed before. Usually it was by the religious leaders. He and John had both been grabbed. But each time they had been let go. They’d been beaten up and ordered to silence, but Peter always came back. Then Herod killed James. The Romans had crucified Jesus and then beheaded James. I’m sure plenty of folks prayed for James. Yet still he went to his death.
Why didn’t God intervene with James? Consider how fervent the prayers were for Peter. Think about how worried the Church was. Everything changed with James’ death. Who would stay faithful? Who would suddenly take their faith seriously? Those answers would come about due to James’ death.
And also, sometimes God is answering a different prayer. James’ had his prayer answered. Remember, he sent his mom to plead his case before Jesus so he and his brother, John, could be first in Heaven. Jesus couldn’t give either what they asked for. Those places weren’t His to give. But He did promise that the two brothers would suffer as He did (Matthew 20). Actually, all of them did.
These are a few of the many reasons we sometimes think God is silent or hard of hearing. He isn’t either of these. God answers in the right time, regardless of whether or not the answer is, “Yes,” or “No.” And He answers in the best way, a way which clearly gives Him all the glory. And sometimes the answer is, “No,” which we don’t accept. Scripture tells us God hears the prayers of His people. If He doesn’t answer right away, there’s one or more reasons for it. When it comes down to it, we just have to trust Him. He will answer. He has a track record of doing so.