Do you ever feel like you are all alone in your prayers? When you call out to God during a trial, do you ever feel like no one is listening?
It’s easy to believe that our prayers are going nowhere when we call upon the Lord yet nothing seems to change in our situation. “The heavens seem as brass to me” is a phrase that Christians sometimes use when they feel God is not hearing their prayers. The saying comes from Deuteronomy 28:23 in the King James Bible. God warned Israel that if they did not obey all God’s commands, he would bring down curses against them. After a list of prospective judgments, God tells them, “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).
Sin did once stunt the prayers of God’s people. Fortunately for believers today, we are no longer under this curse. Our failure to keep God’s standards is what points us to our desperate need for Christ. Jesus lived the perfect life we could not live and died to take the judgment we deserved. He is the one who called out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The heavens were brass to Jesus so that way to God could be opened for us.
As Jesus gave up his last breath and died, the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom. Formerly the curtain hung as a barrier to keep the people out of the Holy of Holies where God dwelt. The tearing of the curtain signified that God accepted the sacrifice of Christ as payment for the sins of his children. Now that Jesus had paid the price for sin, no longer would the heavens be as brass, for the way to God was open again. Because of this, we can be confident that God always hears the cries of his children.
God the Father Knows What We Need Before We Ask
Before Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, he gave them this instruction: “When you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7–8). What a comfort to remember that God knows what we need even before we open our mouths.
God the Father knows what we need and is poised to graciously give us all that we need. Paul told the Roman believers, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31), and went on to say, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
Hebrews 4:14–16 also gives us a beautiful picture of the accessibility of our heavenly Father: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold our confession fast. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jesus Intercedes on Our Behalf
Not only does the Father know what we ask, but Jesus is praying for us! Paul tells the believers in Rome that Jesus is at the right hand of God, interceding for us (Romans 8:34). When we sin, John tells us, “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). From Hebrews we read that Jesus holds his office as high priest permanently and is able to “save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them,” (Hebrews 7:24–25). So, when you fall to sin’s temptations and feel the “heavens are brass,” confess your sins and know that Jesus continues interceding for you to a Father who already knows what you need and is poised to “graciously give us all that we need.”
Notice God doesn’t give us all that we want, but rather all that we need. Which means that sometimes God does not give us what we ask for at all. At other times we don’t know what to pray for. Should we ask God to heal an elderly relative or take them to heaven quickly? Should we pray for a bigger home or for grace to remain in the house we have? When unsure what to pray for, ask for the Holy Spirit’s help.
The Holy Spirit Joins Us in Prayer
Here again, Paul’s address to the Romans is so encouraging. Paul writes, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26–27). As we struggle to know how to pray, we call out to the Spirit of God, knowing he can offer up a prayer on our behalf that is perfectly in line with the will of God.
The groanings Paul mentions do not originate with the Holy Spirit. They are our groanings, which the Holy Spirit joins with us in. We are the ones with uncertain words who groan. The Holy Spirit knows the will of God and prays accordingly, joining with us in our groanings. So, while we may be unsure of what to pray for, we can cry out to the Spirit of God in prayer, knowing the Holy Spirit knows the Father’s perfect will for us and the Father “knows the mind of the Spirit!”
The heavens may yet be brass for those who refuse to believe in Jesus and live only for themselves, but not to us who gladly bow our knees before the Lamb. So the next time you call out to God in a time of need, remember God the Father knows what you need even before you ask. Jesus is ever interceding for you, and the Spirit is at work offering his prayers according to God’s perfect will for your life. The heavens are not brass; they are open for business! This is why Paul concludes, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). You do not ever pray alone.
Best-selling author Marty Machowski takes young readers on an exciting biblical voyage to discover the treasure of God’s love revealed in Luke’s letters to Theophilus—Luke and Acts.