When God Is Silent {Psalm 42 Bible Study}

When it comes to prayer, we understand the importance of making time to speak to God, but what if we don’t hear Him speak back? In today’s video, we look at Psalm 42 to learn three simple steps to take when we feel God is silent. Enjoy!


As minutes turned to hours of waiting in the emergency room, I desperately desired to hear from God. With excruciating pain radiating from my neck all the way down my arm, I prayed to God for relief and expected direction, encouragement, or any sign to let me know I wasn’t as alone as I felt.

Instead, I was met with silence.

Confused as to why God would choose now, of all times, not to respond — while I was in the hospital alone due to COVID-19 restrictions — I began to wonder if He was with me at all. Feelings of rejection and abandonment hurt more than the pain that led me to the hospital.

As a busy mom, I often crave quiet, but I’d argue there is no worse feeling than when it feels like the silence comes from God Himself.

What are we to do when we pray to God — especially when we’re in desperate need — and we’re met with silence? Do we conclude God didn’t hear us? Do we think He’s not there or worse, He doesn’t care?

The writer of Psalm 42 knew what it’s like to cry out to God only to be greeted with silence. Yet instead of receiving God's silence as rejection, the writer continued to trust God and praise God for several reasons we can learn from.

As we look at Psalm 42 today, we’ll learn:

  • 👂The three major reasons you may not be hearing from God.
  • 📡 What practical steps to take when God is silent.
  • ✝️ Why we can always trust God even when we can’t hear Him.

Now, before we begin, I want to outline a few reasons why God might be silent.

  • First, it may be that God is speaking, but you’re not in a position to hear Him.
  • Second, He may be waiting for you to obey the last word He gave you. I’ve found that God rarely gives us every step along the way. He’ll give us the first step, and then when we do that, He’ll give us the next, and so on. So if you’re not hearing from God, ask yourself: What’s the last thing He told me and have I been obedient to that?
  • The third reason you may not be hearing from God is that you are in a testing season and God is giving space for you to exercise your faith in Him. 

Regardless of why you may or may not experience silence from God, we often don’t know what to do in these situations. We may start to doubt if God is really there or question if you did something wrong, but the last thing you want to do is to stop communicating with God. 

1. Keep Seeking God

Have you ever been on a call that lost signal? This can happen quite a bit to me while I’m in the carpool line because we have terrible reception in that area, but when this happens, I just call the person right back and continue the conversation where we left off. I don't assume they don't want to talk to me because the call dropped. I just call them back.

When we feel God is silent, however, we may mistakenly feel God is giving us the cold shoulder and don’t call back. Our natural reaction is to draw away, and not lean in. Yet the writer of Psalm 42 did the opposite in the face of God’s silence. He did not stop calling on God. In Psalm 42:1-2, he writes:

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)

I love the poetry of that verse. I love the visual elements in this verse of a deer panting for water. It describes how our souls should feel for God. It says that we should be drawing near to Him. We should be thirsty for God because we understand that He is what we need.

Sometimes it's not that God is silent, but are we listening? Are we thirsty for Him? Do we want to hear from Him? Is your desire for just what you want or is your desire for God? Regardless of how you feel, are you drawing near to God or have you just given up on the whole idea of hearing from God altogether?

The Psalmist knew what it was like to be in a situation where you feel like God is gone. The psalmist shows us not to give up on seeking God, even when He feels distant because He is the only true source that can satisfy our souls.

2. Remember What God Did in the Past

Each year, seasons bring on changes. A tree will turn from green and plush with leaves, to colorful foliage that fall to the ground, to bare branches covered in snow. No matter the change it experiences, it is still a tree nonetheless. In the same way, as we experience different seasons in our relationship with God, He is still God and His truth and promises always stand true even in a silent season. So although we may not be hearing from God at the current moment, Psalm 42 teaches us to remember what God did in the past. Verse 4 says:

“These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” (Psalm 42:4 ESV)

The Psalmist remembered praising God in the house of the Lord, and although the Psalmist was now far from the house of God, he still remembered God. For us, God may feel quiet now, but if we allow our minds to remember the times He has spoken and moved in our lives, we’ll encourage our souls to know that God’s silence does not mean His abandonment or that He’s not actively working or fighting on our behalf.

Oftentimes, we can get so caught up in the current moment that we feel like our present reality is what it's always been and what it always will be, and that's just not true. Our life consists of moments. We live from one moment to the next, and this moment that we're in now does not define the totality of our life or our relationship with God. It's just a moment that we're passing through. It will pass. Although times change and seasons change, God does not. Hebrews 13:8 says:

“Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

When we think on what life was like when we were hearing from God and when we felt His presence, we can remind ourselves that if He did it before, He can surely do it again. 

3. Worship While You Wait

Once you realize that a silent season is just that; a season that will pass, you may now wonder, what do I do while I wait this season out?

The writer of Psalm 42 reminds us when we feel like God is silent, to worship while we wait. In verse 5 he writes: 

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:5 ESV)

You know what I love about this verse? The Psalmist doesn't wait to feel like praising God. He doesn't wait to feel like God is with him. He doesn't wait to feel like God isn't silent anymore.

No. He tells his soul what to do: hope in God. He decided to praise again. My goodness, the faith! I wonder if we can have that faith today? The faith that says, even though God is silent, I'm going to praise Him anyway.

I'm going to praise Him for what He did in the past and I'm going to praise Him for what He will do. What I love about having a heart of worship, even in a silent season, is that it transforms our minds and comforts our hearts well before our situation may change.

Worship helps us to realize that we don't serve God just for how He makes us feel or what He gives us. True worship is about who God is and as we learned today, God is always the same. He's always good. He's always with us. That's not going to change.

I hope that the words of Psalm 42 encourage your soul not to give up on God because He has not given up on you.

I hope you choose to see the blessing in this season as an opportunity for you to remember that God is good no matter what and to walk by faith and not by sight.

God may be silent, but He's still working. The Bible says that He does not slumber or sleep. He always has an eye on us. He's not surprised by what you're going through or even what you feel. He loves you; He hears you. So I encourage you to draw near to Him, remember what He's done in the past, knowing He can do it again and worship while you wait.

We serve a God who may feel silent, but never fails to act on behalf of His children. So even when God gets uncomfortably quiet, we have hope that anchors us until we hear from Him again.

A hospital waiting room was the last place I expected silence from God. And while I was tempted to question His non-response, I’ve walked with Him long enough to know that although I could not understand His silence, I can always trust His character. He has a proven track record of rescuing me no matter what, and I chose to believe this situation would be no different.

As I look back, I may not have heard from God as I desired, but I can see now that He was with me — leading me to the doctors I needed and providing the care only He could provide during that painful season. The fact that I made it through at all is testimony enough that God never once left me, and no matter what you’re going through today, He hasn't left you either. 

If you’re waiting through a silent season, check out this video where I share 5 steps to take while waiting on God. 

For more encouragement, download my free Bible Study called “Worry-Free” to learn the 3 lies feeding your worry and the truth to set you free at belovedwomen.org. Thanks for watching and until next time, be beautiful, be blessed, and beloved.