Sometimes we wonder:
- God promised He would never leave me, so why am I so lonely?
- I read stories in the Bible of God doing miracles and speaking to His people. Why doesn’t He do the same for me?
- When I pray, I feel like my words bounce off the ceiling. Where are You, God?
- I’m supposed to have an abundant life, but I feel like my life is a dry, barren desert.
We are in good company. People in the Bible wondered the same things.
- David said, “To You, I will cry, O Lord my Rock. Do not be silent to me, lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 28:1).
- David also said, “My tears have been my food day and night” (Psalm 42:3).
- The prophet Habakkuk said “How long shall I cry and You will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2.)
- When Job lost everything, he said, “I cry out to You, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You regard me. But You have become cruel to me; with the strength of Your hand You oppose me” (Job 30:20, 21).
- Even Jesus on the cross said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When you are in the spiritual desert, what do you do?
In my experience, you have three choices:
Choice #1: Give up.
You can say, “God isn’t answering. He obviously doesn’t care about me. I’m done praying. I quit.” Many other people have done the same.
Choice #2: Keep praying.
Jesus tells us to keep praying. Don’t give up.
In Matthew 15:22-28 a Gentile woman asked Jesus for help. At first, he ignored her. He did not answer her prayers.
She worshipped, humbled herself, and kept asking. She didn’t give up. Eventually, Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed!
But what do you do when you have asked and asked, but God still hasn’t answered?
Choice #3: Give it to God and just worship.
Just like we don’t give our children everything they ask for, sometimes God says “no” to us. And other times there are many years between the request and the answer. What do you do then?
You can be like David and use God’s silence as a catalyst for deeper faith. He turned his desert into a place of worship. Read the Psalms. You will see David in the depths of despair in one verse, and on the mountaintops of worship a few verses later.
David was in the wilderness running for his life. Rejected. Far from home. Far from family. He was scared, cold, tired, and hungry. God had not answered his prayers for deliverance.
There in the wilderness, he wrote Psalm 63:1-5,
“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You. My soul thirsts for You. My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.”
He quit asking. He just worshipped. Notice that last sentence. As a result of his praise, he was satisfied and joyful even though he was still in the desert. Years later, God did answer and miraculously took him out of the desert and put him onto the throne.
How can you turn your desert into a place of worship? One way is to learn from the expert—David. Take Psalm 63 and pray it as your own prayer. There are many other Psalms that work well as prayers. Here are a few: Psalms 3, 4, 5, 9, 25, 27, and 28. When David prays about his enemies, substitute the words “my finances” or “this toxic relationship.” You will be pleasantly surprised how your worries will slip away and be replaced by joy.
You may not get your answer, but you will get a deeper relationship with God, and that is more valuable than whatever you were praying to receive!
All scriptural references are from the NKJV version of the Bible.