Friday, April 13, 2007

What If We Are Told Not to Pray Any Longer?

"Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you."

"Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble."

Then the LORD said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence." --- Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11, 12

There has been a very deadly assumption down through the centuries to the present time -- that God always answers all prayers. It seems to be especially entrenched as a society of people get careless and very sloppy when it comes to spiritual, moral and ethical responsibilities. The more lax they become when it comes to the issue of seeking to obey God and fulfilling His divine plan, the more insistent they are that God always answers prayer and all we need to do is ask Him for whatever we have in mind and He will just pour out a ton of blessings in response! Some professing Christians are about willing to engage in a "knock down, drag out fight" over this thing of God answering prayer.

Jeremiah the prophet lived at a time when the spiritual and moral climate of the nation in which he lived was shockingly very much the same as what we are witnessing in the United States. There was a lot of noise generated throughout the country that just about everyone "believed in God." The major problem was the wide gap between what was claimed by way of belief and performance in conduct that provided credibility to that profession of "believing in God!"

There had been the adoption of idolatry, immorality, the "shedding of innocent blood" (child sacrifice to heathen deities), the profaning of the day of worship, and the corruption of the teaching of God's Word -- that is, if it even qualified as "teaching," since the revelation of God to which they had access didn't really mean much to them any longer. For instance, when something is considered vitally important you give attention to it, but when it is not a priority, then it is mainly ignored!

Finally God revealed that the time for praying and being heard had passed -- even a godly person such as Jeremiah was told to pray no longer, because God would no longer listen. He had sounded the warning for years and no one took him seriously, and then it happened -- his nation was invaded and totally destroyed!

Want to think on a troubling question -- how long do you think it will be before God begins to reveal a similar instruction -- "Don't pray any more for your country because I won't hear you!"

For further thought -- when the calamities began to really hit, the people began to say, "Why is God doing these things to us -- what have we done?"

Take a slow and very prayerful walk through the book of Jeremiah and then follow through with the book of Ezekiel -- after you finish, do it again a few more times and see how very up to date these two really are!

Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, "Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you." So I ate it, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. And He said to me: "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted." --- Ezekiel 3:1-7

Through another prophet God said He was going to return to His place until there was honest recognition of having sinned against Him -- the implication was that if they prayed and called on God without repenting and turning from their wicked ways, He was not going to hear them! Ah, you can check that one out in Hosea 5:15 -- yes, it's in the Old Testament -- you might have to hunt a while, but he's there. He lived quite a number of years before Jeremiah and Ezekiel but the spiritual "cancer" was already at work, and God gave Hosea a command to marry a harlot -- a rather dramatic object lesson spelling out how the country had betrayed God in constant acts of spiritual infidelity! If Hosea were living in Washington DC or some other section of our republic today, he would be given the identical "marching orders!" And it is more than an outside possibility that God would say the same today as He said through Hosea a long time ago -- "I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will diligently seek Me." --- Hosea 5:15

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