I’m A Christian: Get Me Outta Here

What’s God up to when things are difficult? What happens when I pray and He doesn’t answer the way I want?

In Sunday school recently, we were looking at the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abendybobby, (ok Abednego) from Daniel 3. The king tells them that unless they worship a false god, he’s chucking them into a furnace. Here’s what they reply:

“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

I’d like to think that when times are tough I could say the first bit.

“King Nebuchadnezzar”.  (Yep, that’s it).

OK. If I was feeling really brave, I might mumble something about God being able to save me. But after that, I’m not so sure.

…’Even if God doesn’t rescue me, I’ll still keep trusting Him’.

Is this true for me? When I don’t get a parking space I start questioning. And in the bigger struggles – well. I’m all over the place.


In these situations I sometimes approach prayer like an exam.

I start by asking for the right answer.  This is for me to get what I want in exactly the way I want it. Example:

‘Dear God.  Please can you make it so my stomach problems are healed.  Preferably by tomorrow. And er – onlyifitsyourwill. But you love me and that’s what I want so it must be your will, right?’

I’ll pray this for a long, long time.  Maybe three or four days.  And then, when I’m still feeling dodgy, I start to get edgy.

You see, if God is God and if He likes me, then He’ll fix stuff in the way I say. But if He doesn’t, then We Have A Problem.  If He doesn’t, then everything I believe is called into question.  I start to think like this:

God hates me. If He loved me, He’d stop me feeling so rubbish.


God’s not there.  Maybe, I’m praying to the sky.


He’s there, but He’s not very big.  He’d love to help, but this one’s a little – tricky.


God’s there but He’s too big for my piddling problems.  His remit is Global Issues and Church Building Repairs.

If God doesn’t answer my prayers in the way I expect, I conclude that something’s wrong at His end.

So I step in.  I try to protect Him and to help Him out.

I do this by altering my prayers.  Turning the Right Answer into multiple choice:

‘Dear God.  If you have time, please can you make it so my stomach problems are healed.  And erm, if you can’t or you’re busy, can you at least help me feel a bit less sick.  And if that’s not – er working, then maybe you could improve my skin tone? Or fix the DVD player.  Or..’

It’s a kind-of ‘covering all bases prayer’ that offers God (and me) a face-saving way out. But maybe instead of helping Him, it stops Him working instead.

It means I never have to think about what answer to prayer really looks like.

I never have to ask difficult questions of my life and my faith.

I never have to look at what I really believe about suffering and hope and comfort and perserverance and who God is and what He wants for me most.

Question is: Is the god I’m following just a slightly bigger version of me?

…Or is He the God who leads me into the furnace, but walks there with me?

8 thoughts on “I’m A Christian: Get Me Outta Here

  1. I know it shouldn’t, but this made me giggle because thisisexactlywhatIdo! I could see my own prayers all the way through, so it was the knowing chuckle of “i know where she’s going with this!” Daniel et al. feel so overwhelmingly awesome, its a book I both love and am terrified of.

    Prayer is so often where my true beliefs get displayed – my real view of God’s goodness and His sovereignty are displayed not by the creed I recite or the public declaration I make but by the prayers on the quiet of my room. Sobering thought.

  2. Emma, seriously, I found your blog over the weekend and I’m already in love with it. Thanks so much for this, I needed it. Facing a furnace at the moment, and really needed those reminders. Thank you.

  3. “Question is: Is the god I’m following just a slightly bigger version of me?

    …Or is He the God who leads me into the furnace, but walks there with me?”

    Spot on! We so often make God just slightly bigger than ourselves and kinda like our puppet God, doing what we want, when we want it cos He loves us! But He is the God of the furnace, walking with us all the time… I love that Daniel verse ‘we know our God is big enough to save us but even if he doesn’t we won’t bow to you’ Now there’s faith for you…


  4. Hi Beckie – yes, the things we pray in private reveal a lot about our real desires and beliefs. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I’ll read out what others pray or the psalms, because they get the emotions I’m feeling, but then go back to the Lord. Left to my own devices I can act like I’m taking things to God but actually not let go of them.

  5. Hi Jenni – it’s amazing faith isn’t it? But we follow the same God, and He’s not just the object of our faith, but the One who gives it to us. So there’s hope for us mustard-seeds too

  6. Thanks so much David – we’ve got a copy at home, but I’ve never read it. And love the Frost quotation.

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