08/09/18 Don’t Even Pray

READING: Jeremiah 5-8

“Do not offer a cry or a prayer on their behalf.”

Jeremiah 7:16

Every time I read this section of the book of Jeremiah, I envision a people not unlike many churchgoers in America today: people who were still entering “through these gates” of the Temple “to worship the Lord” (Jer. 7:2), but who were facing the coming judgment of God. On the outside, they were religious at some level, apparently banking on the idea that their religious rituals allowed them to live however they wished. On the inside, they were simply idolaters. 

Listen to these descriptions of the people:  

Jer. 7:9-10 “Do you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and follow other gods that you have not known? Then do you come and stand before Me in this house called by My name and say, ‘We are delivered, so we can continue doing all these detestable acts’?”

Jer. 7:13b “I have spoken to you time and time again but you wouldn’t listen, and I have called to you, but you wouldn’t answer . . . .”

Jer. 7:23-26 “Yet they didn’t listen or pay attention but followed their own advice and according to their own stubborn, evil heart. They went backward and not forward. . . . they wouldn’t listen to Me or pay attention but became obstinate.”

Jer. 8:6 “No one regrets his evil, asking, ‘What have I done?’”

Jer. 8:12a “Were they ashamed when they acted so abhorrently? They weren’t at all ashamed. They can no longer feel humiliation.”

God was so displeased with the people that He even told Jeremiah the prophet, “As for you, do not pray for these people. Do not offer a cry or a prayer on their behalf, and do not beg me, for I will not listen to you” (Jer. 7:16). Those words ought to alarm us. 

ACTION STEPS:

  • As long as God allows us to pray for others, intercede for someone today. 
  • Make sure you are not just going through the motions of religion. If you are, genuinely seek God through prayer and repentance today. 

PRAYER: “God, thank You for Your patient mercy. Remind me, though, that You are also a God of righteous judgment.”  

TOMORROW’S READING: Jeremiah 9-12