Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review: Brass Heavens

Brass Heavens: Reasons for Unanswered Prayer. By Paul Tautges. Adelphi, Maryland: Cruciform Press. pp. 122. 2013. ($9.99 Paperback | $5.99 Kindle)

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and it felt as though you were talking to a brick wall? How about prayed to God and it felt as though the heavens were made of brass and nothing was getting through? Why is it that I’m not receiving an answer to my prayer? Enter Paul Tautges and his book Brass Heavens: Reasons for Unanswered Prayer.

In the introduction, Tautges summarizes the purpose of unanswered prayer this way: “[God] 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.” I love this explanation, and I’m certain that most believers would agree with it. But I wasn’t quite expected for the nuts and bolts of what this explanation means.

My thoughts don’t typically race to the idea that my sin could be responsible for God’s silence. I’d much rather take comfort in the thought that it just isn’t God’s timing or God’s will why a certain prayer remains unanswered. But Tautges challenges his readers with Scripture and gives us a troubling thought: perhaps it is my sin that is causing this silence from God.

Of the six reasons Tautges gives for unanswered prayer, the first five deal specifically with our sin:

  1. Pet Sins
  2. Neglected Duties
  3. Religious Sins
  4. Inconsiderate Husbands
  5. Stubborn Pride

I can’t argue with the list. There have been times when I’ve seen my prayer life has suffered because of one or more of the above. Tautges says, “In any given instance of challenge or difficulty, God may or may not be interested in changing the circumstances. But he is always interested in changing us.” Unanswered prayer, then, can call us back “into more intimate fellowship and faithful obedience with him,” when we’ve given in to sin.

However, Tautges isn’t naïve. Sin can’t account for every unanswered prayer. That’s why reason number six is so important: Testing Our Faith. It could be that our prayers are not hindered by sins in our lives. Our prayers may be good and honorable. Why then would God not answer our prayers? Again, appealing to the “it’s just not in God’s timing right now” explanation may satisfy some, I think Tautges gets a little deeper and more to the point:

[God] wants us to trust in him even when things don’t go the way we hope, or expect, or think they should. God is our loving heavenly Father who delights to come to our aid when and how it is actually best for us... There are no short-cuts to spiritual maturity. Fully developed faith can only be brought about by a long, difficult process involving trials which produce perseverance, and perseverance has an eternal reward.
Unanswered prayer will challenge our faith and cause us to grow more mature, to be more like Christ. And that will prove more precious to us than we can imagine.

I received this book from Cruciform Press for the purposes of review.

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