“I stopped praying because I feel like God never says anything back.”
A few friends have said things along these lines, and it’s pretty disconcerting. We all feel better when God talks to us, right? We feel peaceful and empowered, and that’s a good thing. But most human prayer doesn’t get a concrete answer, and it’s silly to think that it should.
God is not a vending machine. You can’t expect that if you put x-amount of time/energy/prayer/sacrifice in, you’ll definitely get what you want out of Him. God does not owe us answers. He is not our servant, waiting on our every word so that He can give us all the attention we need. He is not our boyfriend, showering us with constant ministrations. Heck, He’s not even human, with the human need to interact. Trying to fit God into one of these boxes will just lead to frustration.
God is God. He’s all-knowing and all-powerful. He’s a pure spirit, and He is complete and perfect on His own. He doesn’t need to talk to you in order for you to see His love for you- that should be brutally obvious just from looking around you. From the colors that you see to how your body works to the sounds of birds singing… all of the entire universe exists so that God could show his love. And you demand more? You demand that He personally come down and talk directly to you, as though you are the most important person in the world?
Don’t get me wrong, you are very important to Him. St. Augustine said that, “If you were the only person on earth, Christ would have still suffered and died for you.” And that’s true. But don’t let that puff up your ego, for the love of God. Don’t think that just because God died for you, you are somehow owed personal interaction. It doesn’t work that way. God will choose whether or not He talks to you, and you will still be infinitely loved and cared for even if He does not. In fact, it would probably be better for you if He didn’t speak. The silence on the other end of the lines forces us outside of ourselves, forces us to look around us at the world to see what His answer is. When we stew in our misery that the creator-of-the-universe didn’t pop in for a spot of tea and a chat, we miss the homeless man on our doorstep, the children crying for clean water, the war-torn nation begging for help. Our focus is incessantly on ourselves, so we can’t stop to see the misery of others, which is so easily fixed that it’s a marvel nobody bothers to do anything about it.
You know who God does talk to? The humble. The people who don’t expect Him to. The people who love Him and praise Him even when they can’t feel Him. The people who are kind to their brothers and sisters around them without Him having to ask them to be.
So here’s my advice. Let. It. Go. (Yes, we all did just sing the song.) Follow God, praise Him in good times and in bad ones, be charitable to each other, be merciful, be humble. Put your whole heart and soul into helping others, don’t leave even the tiniest bit of yourself free to be miserable. God doesn’t come in the fire, or the windstorm, or the earthquake… He comes in the silence and stillness of a patient and humble heart.
Pray without ceasing, as St. Paul said to the Thessalonians, rejoicing always and giving thanks in all circumstances. Give thanks when you feel happy. Give thanks when you feel sad. Give thanks that you woke up this morning and had access to food and even to internet, for your friends and family and dog who all love you, for the sacrifice on calvary and the sacrifice of the mass, for the color of sunlight on leaves and the twinkle in a child’s eye and that lovely bit of music you heard as you walked down the street. There are a lot of things to talk to God about, when you try. Pray especially, if you are someone who struggles with God not talking to you, for the virtues of patience, humility, and peace.
Love to all!