READING: Jeremiah 7-9
I cannot adequately describe how grateful I am for people who have prayed for me through the years. Glenn. Katherine. Lawrence. Linda. David. Steve. Lois. Inge. Christie. Sonney. Red. Edna. Corilla. Herbert. Jim. Glen. Grover. Ed. Dave. Bo. Mike. Sandy. Carol. Ronnie. Don. Jeanette. Shirley. Frank. Brandon. Phyllis. Steve. Pam. Carrie. John. Tom. I could, in fact, name enough people to take up this entire devotion with the list. I’ve been a blessed man indeed to have so many people interceding on my behalf.
What none of us can know, though, is what those prayers have saved me from. I’m a sinner. I’m susceptible to making stupid choices. As a young believer many years ago, I struggled with giving up sins that seemed to control my life. Nobody walked with me as a discipler, and I learned quickly that I was going to lose the battles whenever I fought alone. I can only guess how many times God must have been ready to give up on me were it not for His grace and the prayers of His people.
Today’s text, on the other hand, reminds us that God does draw a line in the sand when He calls us to repentance. His people of Jeremiah’s day were walking through the motions of worship without really changing their lives. They were worshiping Baal one day and then appearing in the Temple for worship the same week. God had called them to repentance again and again, but they would not listen to Him (Jer 7:13). They were like their ancestors — going “backward and not forward” (Jer 7:24), and God was ready now to bring down the hammer of judgment on them. In fact, God forbade Jeremiah to even pray for them: “So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you” (Jer 7:16).
I can hardly imagine words more tragic. The people had crossed the line, and God would no longer hear prayers on their behalf. Judgment was inevitable.
When I read these words, I think about three things. First, I wonder how close I’ve been to that line in the past. Only God can know the answer to that question. Second, I’m so thankful for the people who’ve prayed for me. Perhaps it truly is because of their prayer that I never crossed that line. Third, I want to pray even more diligently for the believers for whom I intercede. I don’t want them even near the line of judgment, and my prayers, I believe, are still potent on their behalf. I’m pleading with God to keep them walking faithfully with Him. I want to pray desperately and diligently for them while God allows me to do so.
- If you have recurrent sin in your life, consider how close you might be to God’s line of discipline.
- Begin, or continue, to pray diligently for others, praying specifically they would never risk God’s judgment.
PRAYER: “Lord, thank You again for those who pray for me. Help me to pray for others the same way.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Jeremiah 10-12