Brass Heavens: Reasons for Unanswered Prayer, by Paul Tautges
Endorsed by Joel Beeke, Nancy Guthrie, David Murray, Jim Elliff, Bob Kellemen, and more.
Sometimes we’re tempted to wonder if God can hear us. After months or even years of praying over a particular person or situation, we look for evidence that God is getting our message or even paying attention, and we can’t find much. Why is that? Why do the heavens sometimes seem as hard and reflective as brass? Doesn’t God love us and care for us? Isn’t he all-powerful? What’s going on?
Scripture offers six clear reasons why your prayers may go unanswered. Learn what they are, and what you can do about it.
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In Brass Heavens author, pastor, and biblical counselor Paul Tautges grounds prayer in the character of our triune God whose very nature is to share generously his good gifts with his children. Upon that foundation, Tautges then explores six reasons why at times God appears to go silent. As we examine these causes of unanswered prayer, we discover the biblical means by which we may open God’s ears to our voice once again.
God has a good and holy purpose for 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 with him and more faithful obedience to him.
Dr. Paul Tautges serves as senior pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. Previously, he served as pastor of Immanuel Bible Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin for 22 years. Paul has authored eight books and is a teaching fellow for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC)
“An opportunity for rich spiritual growth—even when the heavens are as brass.”
—Dr. Joel R. Beeke
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“Paul Tautges has a lucid and practical style that helps the believer to deal thoughtfully with his prayer life. Both motivating and convicting, here is a very useful and biblical probe for examining and excising those sins that are hindrances to believing prayer. Read and obey for the sake of your future, your family, and the work of God in the world.”
—Jim Elliff, founder and president, Christian Communicators Worldwide
“In Brass Heavens, pastor-shepherd-author Paul Tautges addresses the age-old question: Why do some prayers go unanswered? Wisely, Pastor Tautges grounds his answer in the character of our Triune God whose very nature is to share generously His good gifts. Tautges builds a biblical structure upon that foundation—explaining scriptural reasons for unanswered prayer. Some of these are not easy to hear—because they call us to accountability—but all are important to understand. Like the Scriptures, Tautges does not leave us in the pit of despair, but shows that where sin abounds, grace superabounds—there are biblical pathways for dealing with our role in unanswered prayers and for responding humbly to God’s affectionate sovereignty in response to our prayers.”
—Dr. Bob Kellemen, Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and the author of Equipping Counselors for Your Church
“One of the most painful things about the Christian life is waiting. What do we do while anguish piles up and God remains silent to our prayers? We don’t need platitudes or shrugs of theological ignorance. When we walk in darkness we need to cling to our God. Paul Tautges searches the Scriptures to unveil the character and purposes of the God who is always drawing the praying Christian deeper into faith and repentance. This book shows that unanswered prayer is an opportunity for rich spiritual growth—even when the heavens are as brass.”
—Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan
“For over two decades I have been blessed to have Paul Tautges as my friend. His love for and dependency upon the Word of God, and his confessional way of applying its principles to the present realities of life, have given countless people encouragement and help. In my own life, I have come to the conclusion that the greatest work we do is on our knees. This book gives us practical ways of understanding and working through the things that hinder that indispensable work. You will be blessed as you read.”
—Dr. Matt Olson, President, Northland International University
“Few things vex the Christian more than unanswered prayer. Paul Tautges scatters the darkness of our doubts with six reasons for unanswered prayer. He blends biblical teaching with many practical illustrations to challenge and comfort us when the heavens seem as brass. Read this to revive your prayers, to melt the heavens, and to increase your answers.”
—Dr. David Murray, professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan
“Paul Tautges opens our eyes to the mystery of talking and listening to God as he clearly communicates the reason God hears our prayers—and the reason(s) He is (or seems) silent. This short book is deeply saturated with Bible, gospel, and graceful application. It serves as a wonderful ‘hearing-aid’ of clarity, hope and understanding for all who have encountered brass heavens in the silence of God and have wondered, ‘Is God listening?’”
—Greg Lucas, Author of Wrestling With an Angel, A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace
“Some things in the Scriptures are conveniently ignored—such as the reality that there might be things in our lives that would cause a breakdown in our prayers being heard and answered by God. But this book will not let us continue to bury Scripture’s clear teaching, or continue to ignore the ongoing rebellions, unrelinquished resentments, and unconfessed sins in our lives that may be hindering our prayers.”
—Nancy Guthrie, Bible teacher and author of the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series
Blog Review –
“A book that serves as much as a treatise on sin as it does on one of prayer. “
“Why won’t God answer? Is He not listening?”
How many of us have asked this question, whether openly or in secret? There’s something so disconcerting when we pray earnestly, confidently, possibly desperately, and yet it seems to go unanswered.
God is silent. Or so it seems.
Paul Tautges, in his new book, Brass Heavens, examines several reasons why our prayers may go unanswered. The result is a book that serves as much as a treatise on sin as it does on one of prayer.
This is important for us to keep in mind as our sin does directly affect our prayer life—because Christians have a real, living, active relationship with our Father in Heaven, we can expect what we do to either strengthen or weaken that relationship.
So what are the causes of unanswered prayer? Tautges identifies six reasons why we might not receive an answer to our prayers:
The nurturing of pet sins. “To establish, maintain, or permit the existence in your life of any avenues by which your flesh could seek to fulfill its rebellious desires—this is the cherishing of pet sin,” he writes. “By this you will guarantee the short-circuiting of your prayers. This effort to live two different lives—one in which you cherish God and another in which you cherish sin—is the very definition of being double-minded.”
Neglecting our responsibilities of conflict resolution and offering forgiveness. ”Mishandling either area can severely damage not only our horizontal relationships with others, but also our familial relationship with the Father and consequently the effectiveness of our prayers.”
Religious sins. “There is an outward righteousness that is legitimately connected to the true inner righteousness of Christ imputed to us by the Father,” he writes. “But there is also an apparent outward righteousness … of independence and self-justification, a false righteousness that presumes to possess an inherent, self-contained goodness—something only God possesses in and of himself.”
Being an inconsiderate husband. “To live in ignorance of a wife’s spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical condition, or to be uncaring about what it means to lead and love her as Christ does the church, this is disobedience to God.”
Stubborn pride. “Our self-sufficient pride, our persistent refusal to listen and yield to God, can close his ears to our prayers,” Tautges writes. “When we willfully choose to be stubborn against God’s correction, we become slaves to our own pride and our fellowship with God is interrupted.”
It’s easy to see the connection between all of these sins—they’re interpersonal and often based upon a higher view of self than we ought to have. When our sin causes our prayer to go unanswered, it’s often because we do not judge ourselves with right judgment (John 7:24). We look at our appearance or we look at what others have done (legitimately or otherwise) and too often respond self-righteously.
We too easily become like the Pharisee who prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men” (Luke 18:11).
Is it any wonder God would find that offensive?
This is a constant struggling point in my own own life. There are certain people I find myself looking down upon far too easily—sometimes because of questions about competency in professional areas and others because there’s just something about them that drives me up the wall—and struggling to figure out how to deal with the conflicts at the heart of the matter. But too often, instead of taking my concerns to God in prayer, I’ve let that frustration fester, and waste an opportunity to grow in my faith.
Why do I—and presumably many others—do that? I suspect it’s because I and those like me often forget the most critical reason for unanswered prayer:
It is to test our faith.
God often leaves our prayers unanswered so that we might become increasingly conformed to the image of his Son.Unanswered prayer is a gift from God for our growth—in holiness and in every other good and godly way—and sometimes it has nothing to do with whether we are hanging on to any of the sins described [previously].
When God appears to not answer our prayers, it isn’t necessarily because we’re guilty of a particular sin—the lack of an answer isn’t intended as a chastening act of discipline, but as a means of drawing us closer to Him. ”Our faith is our life, and the status of our faith is the most important thing about us,” Tautges writes. “The tests of faith that God sends our way are reminders to keep us focused on what is true and real and primary.”
Of everything Tautges says about unanswered prayer in Brass Heavens, this surely is the most critical for us to remember: prayers may go unanswered not because God is displeased us, but because He loves us enough to say “no.” And this truly is a gift, whether we realize it or not.
This testing of our faith is an opportunity for us to grow not only in patience, but in perseverance. God delights in our asking, and He delights in giving good gifts to His children—and His good gifts will always be those that transform us increasingly into the image of Christ.
While it may be a faux pas for me to review Brass Heavens—after all, I’ve been published twice by Cruciform Press and also work behind the scenes with them on some of their marketing efforts—the subject is one too important to not talk about. Tautges’ analysis of the reasons for unanswered prayer is sound, thoughtful and, most importantly, hopeful. Give this book your careful attention. You won’t regret it.
Aaron Armstrong, Blogging Theologically
Blog Review –
“A much-needed message for believers that God hears and wants to answer our prayers.”
Prayer can be one of the most faith-challenging aspects of being a follower of Jesus. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t experienced the discouraging feeling that their prayers have gone unheard by God. I’ve had times where I’ve prayed for what feels like relentless prayers, and God just doesn’t seem to answer.
Brass Heavens by Paul Tautges is a short book from Cruciform Press that tackles this issue. Tautges acknowledges that there are times when it feels like we are praying to “brass heavens” and God doesn’t seem to hear us or respond. In the book, Tautges seeks to paint a picture of God as one who hears, but give us some very real, very biblical reasons why our prayers may go unanswered.
He covers six reasons why God may not answer: pet sins in our lives, unresolved conflict that produces broken relationships, religious sins, husbands failing to honor their wives, stubborn pride, and God sometimes testing our faith. Obviously, our own behaviors can affect God’s willingness to answer our prayers and sometimes we must change. Other times we simply have to trust that God is trying to grow something in us through the testing of our faith.
Brass Heavens isn’t an easy book to read because you’ll be confronted with the ways you may hijack God’s work in your life. However, it is a much-needed message for believers that God hears and wants to answer our prayers.
Review copy provided by Cruciform Press
Tom Farr, Tom Farr Reviews
Amazon Review –
“Tautges summarizes the purpose of unanswered prayer”
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.
A. Wencl, in a 5-star review on Amazon
Amazon Review –
Summed up many of the issues on the vexing question of unanswered prayer and makes one consider more deeply the way we live out our everyday Christian life.
William, in a 4-star review on Amazon
Amazon Review –
“If I could afford to give you all a copy I would do that.”
I received a copy of this ebook at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.
I first want to say that I really like Cruciform books. They produce great quality gospel centered content for a very practical price. You must check them out here. You will not be disappointed.
Brass Heavens is a book about exactly what the title states: Reasons for Unanswered Prayer. It was very informative and filled with great biblical and practical information. It was never condemning but filled with grace laced words all the way through. It was probably the most encouraging book that I have read on the topic of prayer. I highly recommend it to everyone.
This book also addresses more than it’s title states. In the beginning it gives a basis for prayer and talks about why we pray and how God delights in this. This is by far my favorite book this year. It is a must read. If I could afford to give you all a copy I would do that. That is just how wonderful I thought this book to be.
I am not sure what else I can say about this book besides what I have already. If you are interested in prayer, which all of us should be, then this book would be a beneficial read. It will grow you in a deeper understanding of prayer. A must read. If you do not buy any other book this year get this one.
Angela, in a 5-star review on Amazon
Amazon Review –
“This small book is one that you should keep handy as you go through daily trials, victories and your walk with the Lord.”
As the title indicates Brass Heavens describe unanswered prayers. God’s people in the Old Testament would cry out to God and wondered if the heavens were made of brass, keeping the prayers of God’s people away. Does God not hear us? We are people that need to be heard and understood. I think it is important and is brought up very nicely in this study, that because God loves us well, he does not answer prayer the way we think it should go and sometimes He is silent on matters that cause us to wait. “Wait on the Lord and know that He is good.” He covers how sin can keep prayers from being answered, and the why. Is this in God’s word to discourage us, no but to encourage us in his nature. Each chapter ends with a prayer that is heartfelt and is geared towards the trinity. This small book is one that you should keep handy as you go through daily trials, victories and your walk with the Lord. One of the things I gleamed from this study is that unanswered prayer probably tells me more about who God is then answered prayer.
Jeanie, in a 4-star review on Amazon