“Are you out there, God?”

Are You Out There, God?

5 Steps to troubleshoot problems with your prayers

“Is there anybody out there?”  was my final call into the radio handset at 0-Dark-30 in the morning. It was almost a cry of desperation after carrying more than 100 pounds of high frequency radio equipment for days through the dense woods.

As the Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) for my reconnaissance team on a very important training mission, this radio was the single point of communication between my unit and our commander. After several frustrating and unsuccessful attempts to reach the Ranger Base Station, the situation was becoming desperate.

Trust me; I know what the silence feels like when you desperately need to hear from somebody on the other end of the radio.

Prayer is the always-available, direct line of communications with God. Sometimes, it feels like God is instantly available and intimately close when we pray. However, sometimes it feels like God is not listening or doesn’t hear our prayers. God’s silence can be staggering to our faith. Read to the end of this article to see just how staggering God’s silence can be.

I don’t want anyone to go through the frustration and challenges that I faced as an RTO for my special operations unit in the US Army.  I wrote this article so that you will hear God’s voice when you pray. It is a guide to follow when God is silent.

I always followed 5 simple steps when I couldn’t make radio communications in the Army, and I believe these five simple steps will help troubleshoot your relationship with Jesus when he is silent to your prayers. 

1. Check your batteries

When the power to the radio dies, there is no hope of communication. There is no workaround to this issue. That’s why I carried a lot of weight in batteries in my pack while serving as an RTO in the Army.

Let this remind you of a simple truth: The power of prayer rests with God, not you!  

I believe in the power of prayer! I have personally seen God work powerfully through the prayers of his people! But sometimes we can be tempted to believe that it is the prayers themselves that are powerful. I wrote another article to teach people what it looks like to pray with power

2. Check your frequency

It might sound simple or even offensive to a seasoned radio operator, but the next step in troubleshooting a problem making radio communications is to check the frequency! If I’m transmitting on a different frequency than you are receiving, we are never going to talk to each other over the radio. 

I can’t count the number of times I double-checked or triple-checked the numbers to make sure I was communicating on the right frequency with my radio.

God also has a frequency with which he wants you to communicate. His frequency is “total honesty”.  Some people try to dress up their prayers or make them sound super spiritual.  God isn’t looking for fancy words; he is more interested in a sincere heart.  

This is the moral to the story about prayer that Jesus tells in Luke 18.  It was the notorious sinner, not the Pharisee, who went home justified because he was totally honest with God in prayer. If you are not hearing from God, check your heart and make sure that you are being absolutely honest with him in prayer. Honesty is God’s prayer frequency.  

3. Check your antenna

High frequency radio wave propagation can be an art. However, even when getting the radio wave and antenna lengths to match up perfectly, the environment still plays a factor. Sometimes, I couldn’t make clear communications with my radio because there was some difficult terrain or dense vegetation blocking the signal. 

Sin blocks your antenna every time! If you know there’s something blocking your communications with God, remove that from your life. Nothing is more important than having a pure and intimate relationship with God.  You can’t paint over an impure heart. Here’s a short article to help you examine your heart when you pray.

4. Check your radio

It’s rare, but sometimes the radio itself is the problem. A broken radio being carried through kilometers of difficult woods is as worthless as carrying bricks when it’s time to make a radio call for your team.  News flash: Both radios have to work in order to have good communication.

Religion is worse than a broken radio. Religion leaves people with the false notion that saying the right kind of prayers at the right time of day, or using the right words, will get God’s attention.  Dead religious prayers are no more effective than trying to talk to a brick!  I’m convinced that religion is like playing a rigged game that’s designed to make you fail. 

That desperate radio call I made at 0-Dark-30 was met with complete silence.  What I didn’t know at the time is that the Ranger Base Station was facing an equipment problem.  I learned this when I made a call to “anyone station on this net.”  I got replies from Thule, Greenland, a ham radio operator in the Caribbean, and a pilot flying over the central part of the US all at the same time. 

If your prayers haven’t been communicating effectively with God lately, I assure you God’s equipment is still functioning perfectly. Perhaps the problem is with you. Maybe there is a relationship problem.  Troubleshoot your heart.  Examine if you’re treating prayer like a religious ritual rather than a relationship with your creator.

5. Check your timing

Sometimes God doesn’t respond to your prayers right away because he is growing your faith. It can be incredibly challenging to pour your heart out to God only to hear silence in reply. Sometimes, God grows our faith by causing us to wait on him. This is a reminder that He works on his timeline, not on ours. We need to be occasionally reminded that we are not God.  His silence is meant to remind us that God alone is sovereign; he doesn’t act when we want him to. 

I believe this is what God was trying to teach his people in Amos 8:11–12 (CSB). “Look, the days are coming [this is the declaration of the Lord God] when I will send a famine through the land: not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and roam from north to east seeking the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.[1]

if God is being silent right now, perhaps he’s not mad at you. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with your heart or your relationship with him. Maybe, his silence is for the purpose of growing your faith. If that’s the case, the worst thing you could do is allow his silence to damage your relationship with him. 

Patiently wait on God’s voice, and you will not be disappointed. Here’s a recent sermon to give you some advice on how to protect your relationship with Jesus so you don’t get past the point of no return with him.

[1] Christian Standard Bible. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020

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