When we fail God

When the church prayed an angel appeared and the chains fell from Peter, led him out past the guards, who were later executed for their failure to retain just one man.

Herod, the man who took Peter captive, who had the guards executed, later fell over dead, worms eating him from the inside out.

People speak all the time about prayer. About how it saved this one, didn’t that one. About how it sustained this church but not that one, healed this woman but not that child. About how it helped this team to win and that team to accept their losses gracefully. About how it earned one a job and yet left millions jobless.

As if God is as capricious as a boss who hasn’t quite decided whether he like the work we do or not.

We speak often of prayer, and what our prayers accomplish, or fail to accomplish.

Yet, we hardly ever mention the times we fail to pray.

And what child isn’t healed because we didn’t pray.

What nation is at war because we failed to pray.

What healing is denied because we didn’t pray.

What despair has taken root because we didn’t pray.

We speak often of how God fails us.

We aren’t so eager to speak of how we fail God.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Karen: correct again! Isn’t the discussion so often about whether prayer actually works? Or not? Even if we could “prove” that it did, would our practice of it change? Jesus prayed and taught us to pray. That’s enough, all we could ask for. But if we need more, I’ve not found anything so compelling as Rob Bell’s short film “Open”. If you watch it once, watch it 20 times. A word of caution, though: He takes risks in order to break new ground that may shake a rigid concept of God as sovereign puppet master. (So did Jesus!) Maybe the God of All Creation is a lot less mechanical, more masterful, and a whole lot more personal. Don’t look for agreement in everything, but walk with Bell and the players in the film down that final hallway scene. Hear what Bell says prayer does and can do. Be open. God is not done. Neither are we.

  • Ian

    Amen. I’m grateful for the conviction of the spirit that this post sparked, Karen.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      As it came from a place of my own conviction, Ian.

  • I know I fail God daily. I am just grateful that God never fails!

  • Alison


    You are soooo right about how we fail God. It strikes me that it’s easy to blame God, because then that allows us to be “off the hook” for things that were really our responsibility. I know that I fail God at least 20 times a day, but He has never failed me, so it would be unfair for Him to blame me for things that were really my fault. Thanks for this, Karen.