There is something within us that really wants God to speak to us.
Even non-religious people sometimes find themselves, in a moment of weakness, praying and asking God for help. Sometimes we’re not even asking for something as big as a miracle, but just something small: a sign to let us know that he’s there or maybe just a word to let us know what we should do.
Life would be so much easier if God just spoke to us more often. Which job should you take? God will tell you. Which person should you date? God will tell you. Which school should you attend? Which house should you buy? Which restaurant should you eat at tonight? God will tell you.
Wouldn’t it be nice if God spoke to us more often?
In fact, we don’t just believe that it’s nice when God speaks, we actually believe that God should speak to us.
Some people even stop believing that God exists because he didn’t speak to them — they have had experiences with unanswered prayer. They asked God for something and he didn’t respond. They asked for a sign and he didn’t show them one.
It’s kind of funny to me (and a little arrogant of us) to think that Almighty God — the Creator of the Universe — the Author of Life — should even give me the time of day, let alone speak to me at my every beck and call.
And yet, the Biblical picture of God is one who is active in our lives, listens to our prayers, and even speaks to us personally.
It’s in God’s nature to speak to us.
In the beginning of John’s account of Jesus’ life, John even calls Jesus “the Word.”
But you are not alone when you feel like God is silent.
In the Old Testament, Zechariah was one of the final prophets. After Zechariah died there was a period of about 500 years of silence from God. During this time there were no prophets, no prophetic voice to guide the people, and no idea what God was up to during the silence.
But 500 years later, God breaks his silence when he speaks to another man named Zechariah. God tells Zechariah that he is going to have a son whom he is to name “John” and that John is going to be a prophet — speaking on behalf of God and preparing the way for the coming of Jesus.
Then Zechariah goes mute. God silences his prophet. And Zechariah is not aloud to speak the entire time his wife is pregnant.
Let’s pick up the story there in Luke chapter 1, verse 57 (NLT):
57 When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.
59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”
61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.
If you’ve ever struggled to hear God speak to you, then pay attention to Zechariah’s story.
Zechariah’s story speaks to me in 3 ways:
Zechariah breaks his own 9-month silence and God’s 500 years of prophetic silence as he names John — John, who himself will become “a voice shouting out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord’s coming!” (Luke 3:4, NLT) And then our Lord Jesus would be called “the Word.” God may have been silent for a season, but now he was about to start speaking very loudly.
1. Sometimes God is silent and we don’t know why. But it doesn’t mean that God is not at work. All the while Zechariah is silent, God is doing something big: he’s creating life inside the womb of Elizabeth.
I’ve always thought it was funny that the people “used gestures to ask [Zechariah] what he wanted to name [his son]” (v. 62). Did you catch that? I know that if I were Zechariah, I would have sarcastically written on the notepad for everyone to read, “People! I’m mute, not deaf! Why are you using gestures, just talk to me!”
2. Even if God is silent, it doesn’t mean we have to be. We should keep talking to him, he’s still listening.
Zechariah writes on the tablet “His name is John.” Which is interesting to me, because when God breaks his 500 years of silence, he does so with written words.
3. Sometimes God “speaks” through his written Word. God uses people like Zechariah to write down his words for us instead of saying them aloud. And in the Bible, there are lots of words he has had people write down for us so that we all can “hear him speak.” “God’s Word” is at our fingertips.
Just like Zechariah’s story speaks to me, maybe by reading the Bible on a consistent basis, you’ll hear God speak to you.
If you’d like to try reading the Bible, but need help knowing where to start, I recommend downloading the free Bible app. On the app you can select a free daily reading plan based upon any topic you’d like to hear God speak about. And the best part is that you can even “hear” him speak aloud by listening to the verse read aloud (like an audio book).