Sometimes we’re tempted to wonder if God can hear. After months or even years of praying over a particular person or situation, we look for evidence God is getting our message or even paying attention, and we can’t find much. Why is that? Why do the heavens sometimes seem like brass? Doesn’t God love us and care for us? Isn’t he all-powerful?
The phrase brass heavens has its origins in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. It was part of God’s warning to his chosen people Israel, a promised consequence of neglecting to obey his commands. As the nation prepared to enter the Promised Land, we find this among the curses for disobedience given by Moses: “And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron” (Deuteronomy 28:23; KJV). Most recent translations use “bronze” instead of “brass,” but the meaning is the same. Admittedly, this verse in its context has nothing to do with prayer. Rather, it is a warning from God that periods of drought would be one of the many consequences of Israel’s rebellion. The skies would appear promising, but the heavy layer of clouds would bring forth no rain. As a result, the ground would dry up and become like iron, impossible to cultivate. For a society that survived largely by agriculture, this was nothing short of a disaster.
So while the verse is not about prayer, brass heavens nevertheless became a common expression among Christians because it describes so well the silence of God—the drought of unanswered prayer and the famine-like spiritual unfruitfulness that believers sometimes experience. Like the people who originally adapted the phrase, I selected the phrase as a title of one of my books on prayer because I like the analogy.
God has a good and holy purpose for these periods of silence. He wants to test our faith that we might see for ourselves just how weak and dependent we are on him for all good things. His goal is nothing less than to heighten our spiritual sensitivities in order to draw us into more intimate fellowship and faithful obedience with him.
In the book, Brass Heavens, we explore in depth six reasons our prayers often go unanswered. Therefore, I want to take the next week to explain each of these reasons in brief form. Here’s where we will be going, here are the Scriptural reasons we will examine.
- Pet Sins
- Neglected Duties
- Religious Sins
- Inconsiderate Husbands
- Stubborn Pride
- Testing Our Faith
I hope you will follow along with me the next week as we explore these six reasons.