Although there’s a lot to love about country music, it’s certainly not known for its deep theology. For example, Billy Currington seemed to express his entire worldview when he sang, “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.” That’s a catchy slogan, but I don’t think my church will add it to our catechism anytime soon.
And while I love the Christian sentiment in Carrie Underwood’s hit song, “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” I don’t plan to literally try that approach the next time I’m on the freeway. I think it’s more Biblically accurate to say we should keep our hands on the wheel (no texting!), yet continually reply upon the Holy Spirit to tell us where to turn (Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 30:21, Colossians 3:15).
Lately I’ve also been thinking about the theology of Rascal Flatts’ blockbuster hit, “Prayin’ for Daylight” It’s a song about prayer, which is a good thing. And what few people realize is that it happens to parallel a story in the Bible where some sailors being tossed and turned by a violent storm prayed for the night to end quickly:
Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight (Acts 27:29 NIV).
This may seem like an insignificant verse to you, but it has impacted me greatly as I’ve dealt with a difficult diagnosis with my health. I’ve discovered that when you go through a stormy season or dark night of the soul, it’s understandable to pray for “daylight” – asking God for the whole nightmare to come to a quick end.
Yet there’s something almost comical about how prayer is portrayed by the sailors in Acts and in the Rascal Flatts song. You see, even if you’re a firm believer in the power of prayer, it’s unlikely you’ll experience daylight any sooner if you pray for an untimely end to the night.
Unless God intervenes to change the path of the sun and moon (as in Joshua 10:12-13), daylight will come exactly when it’s scheduled to come. Yes, prayer changes things, but it’s unlikely to change that. In fact, I have an app on my phone that declares in advance when dawn will break tomorrow.
So it seems to me that it’s more Biblical to pray for grace and strength to endure the dark nights than to ask God to speed them along. As Annie profoundly sang in her famous musical, “The sun’ll come out, tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!” I love the optimism expressed in that song, but you can’t necessarily change when your “tomorrow” will come.
On the other hand, I’ve seen people who have remained in their storm or dark night much longer than they had to. The Israelites are a good example. It was absolutely necessary for the them to pass through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. However, while they could have made the journey within 40 days, their unbelief and disobedience extended their wilderness experience to 40 years.
Winston Churchill once recommended, “If you’re going through hell, keep going!” Perhaps we could quibble about Churchill’s theology, but it’s true that sometimes we must pass through flooded waters, fiery trials, or dark valleys — not stopping until we arrive safely on the other side. The good news is that the Lord promises to be with us all along the way (Isaiah 43:2, Psalm 23:4).
Friend, if you find yourself “prayin’ for daylight” today, my heart goes out to you. You may not be dealing with a cancer diagnosis, as I am, but perhaps your dark night has to do with trouble with your marriage, children, emotions, career, finances, or ministry. Whatever the case may be, let me assure you that daylight is coming!
Although the sailors in Acts 27 felt that they were about to perish, in the end they all survived. Like them, we must confront our fears and drop our anchors. Thankfully, in times of trouble we’ve been given a faithful anchor they knew nothing about:
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf (Hebrews 6:19-20 NIV).
Isn’t it good to know you don’t need to waste any more time prayin’ for daylight? Instead, you can rest in the assurance that daylight is surely on the way. It has already been scheduled!
Your storm may be fierce today, but you’ll get through this.