Step into your prayer closet for just a moment. Do you hear it? It’s that dull, hollow sound which reverberates across the heavens as your prayers are banging against an iron sky.
Do you ever feel that way? I know I do. I offer prayers and petitions to heaven, spend hours upon my knees in humble submission and lift my requests up to God. Then, in one great resonance of silence, I hear… nothing. In fact, there are times when it seems the greatest pain of my life is that I am listening for a returning voice that cannot, or will not, be heard. All I hear is the echoed words of my own heart as my prayers beat against the iron sky. Impenetrable, unbreakable, there are times when it seems that no matter how I pray, I cannot breach the wall. So if silence is deafening, the silence of God is thunderous.
David understood this. In Psalm 22:2 he cries out, “O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” Again, in Psalm 28:1, “To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.”
Day or night David listened, cried out, did not remain silent – only to languish in the silence of God. His distress was such that he likened it to being as one who had “gone down to the pit.” But you and I know that there is great heartache when God remains silent. Imagine wanting to talk with the one you love only to receive the quiet turn of the head with no return conversation. It’s called the “silent treatment” for a reason! That’s because it hurts.
So… where did the iron-forged sky come from? There are some possibilities.
- First, it is important to consider that the iron sky might have been sin-forged.
Consider what God said through Isaiah the prophet, “…but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2). It is no mystery. In the times of sinfulness, the relationship with God is fractured.
The remedy is simple, though it will require humility: repent. If the iron sky was forged in sin, it is dismantled in repentance. Humble, honest repentance, from the contrite and lowly of heart, God will not despise.
- Second, the possibility is that the sky was forged through selfishness in prayer.
Yes, I know, selfishness is a sin as well. But there is a marked difference that is exposed in the Scriptures, a difference that is seen in your motivation for prayer. James tells us, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3). More than the commission of a sin, the very prayer you’re offering before God is only for selfish purposes.
The remedy for this is just as simple: turn your mind away from worldly pleasures and seek that which is pleasing to God. Your prayers should be a reflection of your desire for God’s glory. Take to heart the words of Colossians 3:1-2 and set your mind and heart on “things above and not on earthly things.”
- Third, and perhaps the one that all of us understand in great detail, is the iron sky of time.
There is the simple fact that God does not, and will not, subscribe to our insistence. He works according to His timing and will not change. Joseph suffered for years in prison; Abraham waited for years to have a son; the Israelites endured slavery for 400 years, crying out all the while. God hears our prayers, knows our need and has already set in motion the answer – though its arrival does not come in the immediacy of our need.
This calls for patience – and that is the only remedy. Patient faith requires us knowing and trusting that God will do exactly what is best and right. Again in James it says, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains” (James 5:7).
Though this is not a complete manifest of the iron sky that all of us experience from time to time, I hope you understand that God does hear your cry. If you’ve constructed the barrier, simply remove it through humble repentance. If time is the barrier, trust God and be patient. He does know your need and will bring about your best in His time.
So even when the sky is made of iron, I leave you with the simple statement of Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Michael Duncan is a multi-published author, including From Vision to Victory and Shadow Remnant. He is co-host on the Alive in Christ radio network and serves as a pastor in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. He is a keynote speaker and conference presenter and can be contacted at: http://www.authormichaelduncan.com and you can follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/michaelduncanbooks.