Summary: A look at prayer in the life of Jeremiah.
Illustration: We want to know what makes people ¡§tick¡¨. What do they do when not in the public eye? I.e. election campaigns, tabloids.
For Jeremiah, the answer is obvious. Seven different times in the book of Jeremiah, we see what happens in the life of Jeremiah when he¡¦s alone and we find that in each of those cases, what Jeremiah does is that he prays.
„« Run with Purpose
„« Run with Perspective
Today: Run with Prayer
Jeremiah does not address the HOW of prayer ¡V he addresses the HEART of prayer.
Illustration: Anniversary dinner at Melting Pot
„« Intimate encounter with my wife
„« Other things going on around us, but they did not intrude on our intimacy
„« From time to time the server comes to take our order, refill our water, etc.
„« When we¡¦re done we leave a tip for the server
„« When we depart, the conversation doesn¡¦t end, it just takes a different form
„« Too many of us engage in that kind of prayer relationship with God, but with one huge difference ¡V the person across the table from us is Self and the waiter is God.
Prayer in Jeremiah 15 is a good example of what happens when Jeremiah prays.
When I get to the HEART of prayer, I¡K
1. REVEAL - EXPRESS MY FEELINGS
You understand, O LORD; remember me and care for me. Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering - do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake. When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty. I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?
Jeremiah 15:15-18 (NIV)
We tend to think of prayer as accepting and soothing, which it often is, but Jeremiah¡¦s prayer expresses feelings we often feel ashamed to express in prayer:
You understand, O LORD; remember me and care for me. Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering - do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake.
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty. I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?
Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?
¡KThey have forsaken me, the spring of living water¡K
Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)
Believers argue with God; skeptics argue with each other.
Jeremiah¡¦s prayer does not end when he finishes speaking. In prayer, God is not our audience, he is our partner. After Jeremiah speaks honestly, he waits expectantly.
2. REPENT ¡V EXCHANGE MY FOCUS
Therefore this is what the LORD says: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me¡K
Jeremiah 15:19 (NIV)
Jeremiah¡¦s preaching was focused on the idea of repentance. Now God tells Jeremiah that he needs to repent, too.
Jeremiah¡¦s part in the prayer was to be honest and personal; it is God with whom he has to do¡KGod¡¦s part in the prayer is to restore and save¡KGod feels our pains, but he does not indulge our self-pity.
This part of prayer goes back to what we looked at the very first week in our study of Jeremiah. If I want to run with the horses, I need to get my focus off of self and get it on God. Prayer, especially the honest kind of prayer we see from Jeremiah, helps me to do that. By laying out my feelings honestly before God, I begin to understand that God understands those feelings, but he also wants me to move beyond them.
3. REFLECT ¡V EXAMINE MY FOUNDATIONS
¡Kif you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.
Jeremiah 15:19 (NIV)
Jeremiah was understandably discouraged. By this time, had probably been preaching God¡¦s word for about 20 years ¡V with no visible results. Jeremiah had to be tempted to just how in the towel. Why not just preach what the people wanted to hear? Why go through the pain and misery of being faithful to God?
But in prayer, God leads us to re-examine our priorities, to go back to those foundations he has established for our lives.