Editorial - "Do Not Pray For This People"

by Joy Hunting

Almighty God is a prayer-answering God. He is not in the habit of ignoring our pleas, although there was a time when the prophet lamented: "You have covered yourself with a cloud, that prayer should not pass through" (Lamentations 3:44), when he was in anguish of spirit because the Lord was dealing harshly with disobedience and was angry with His people.

Rather than the Lord distancing Himself from our needs, we read: "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry" (Psalm 34:15), and this is reiterated in the New Testament in Peter's first letter to the Dispersion: "For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil" (3:12).

It is important for us to fulfil the conditions necessary to get the Lord's ear and be assured of His Divine intervention in our affairs whether as an individual or as a nation. It would be foolish indeed for us to lay ourselves open to the same response Jeremiah received from God on several occasions: "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" (Jeremiah 7:16, also 11:14 and 14:11).

Jeremiah also had the Lord tell him on one occasion that even "though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be favourable towards this people" (15:1).

We remember that Moses had made a famous intercession for the people in the day when they had made the golden calf to worship. He had even offered to have his own name blotted out of God's book: "... If you will forgive their sin -- but if not, I pray, blot me out of your book which you have wrritten" (Exodus 32:32).

And Samuel in his distress at the people's demanding a king had said "Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you" (I Samuel 12:23). Samuel certainly knew the importance of prayer, yet even he could not persuade the Lord against His will.

The prophet Ezekiel also found that the Lord was very decided in His judgement on unfaithfulness; that He would punish with famine, or wild beasts, or the sword, or pestilence in the land. Four times he stated: "Though these three men Noah, Daniel and Job were in it (the land), they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness" (Ezekiel 14:14,16,18,20).

May we never put ourselves in the position where the Lord says to a would-be intercessor: "Do not pray for this people, for I will not hear."