How to Pray when the Lights are on but Nobody’s Home


March 22, 2014

Psalm 77

I cried out to my God for help; I cried for God to hear;
When in distress, I sought the Lord, no comfort was found near.

All night I stretched untiring hands; my soul could only moan;
I mused, my spirit grew more faint; remembered God with groans.

You kept my eyes from closing, Lord, too troubled e’en to speak;
I thought of days from long ago, when faith did not seem weak.

My songs remembered in the night bring mem’ry to my heart;
My spirit does inquire of God; with musing, questions start:

“Will God reject forever? O where has His favor gone?
Has His unfailing love now failed? His promise trusted long?

“Has God forgotten to be kind and merciful to me?
Has He in anger withheld love? For I no mercy see!

And then I thought, “It is my grief and my infirmity;
I will appeal to God’s right hand – the years that I can see.”

I will remember long ago, Your miracles of old;
I’ll meditate on all Your works, Your mighty deeds once told.

Your ways, O God, are holy, and no god’s great as our God.
The God who performs miracles, displays Your pow’r abroad.

Your mighty arm redeemed the host of people who descend
from Jacob and from Joseph – You great help to them did send.

The waters saw You and they shook; the waters saw with fear;
The very depths were shaken when Your presence, God, drew near.

The clouds outpoured their water, and the skies with thunder shook;
Your lightning arrows flashed about; all trembled at Your look.

Your thunder in the whirlwind roared, and all who heard did shake;
Your lightning lit the world, and all the earth did fear and quake.

Your path led through the mighty sea; Your way through waters deep;
And though Your footprints were not seen, Your people you did keep.

You led Your people like a flock which trusts the shepherd’s hand;
Through Moses and through Aaron, You enabled them to stand.


Yesterday I mentioned Pete Greig in my reflection, one of the founders of a world wide prayer movement. If you want to read a page-turner treatment of that story, take a look at Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer is Awakening a Generation. More surprising though is the title of Greig’s next book: God on Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer. Song #77 is all about that second title: God on Mute.

Jesus was clear about this. Remember when he told the story about trying to wake someone up late at night to get some food to help another friend in need? The man responded to the knocking with this helpful reply, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” The point of the story was to create a comparison and a contrast. First for the comparison: at times it’s going to feel like your prayers are bouncing off of the ceiling; that the lights are on but nobody’s home, or at least they don’t want to get out of bed. The contrast: God is nothing like the guy who doesn’t want to get out bed. The big point: never stop asking, seeking and knocking. Do not despair. God is working.

Song #77 makes a decisive turn with this line: ”

And then I thought, “It is my grief and my infirmity; I will appeal to God’s right hand – the years that I can see.”

It’s like he reasoned with himself that all this despair about being forgotten and rejected by God was not really God but his own grief and infirmity. Far from a double-down on the effort because I don’t have enough faith approach, the singer begins to ask, seek and knock with a new tactic: memory. The lyrics to the song make a bee line straight to the Red Sea. But note, the Psalmist pitches his tent on the far side of the sea. Pure brilliance.

Your path led through the mighty sea; Your way through waters deep;
And though Your footprints were not seen, Your people you did keep.

The best predictor of future performance is past performance. Though the old adage is often not true with people, it’s always true with God. Yesterday. Today. Forever. Never give up Jimmy V. There’s a campsite still here with plenty of room for you to pitch your tent for awhile.

Are you feeling like God is “on mute,” when it comes to your prayers of late? Try singing this song. CLICK HERE.

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at


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