Learning to Pray with Jeremiah

I like to study the lives of the men and women of the Bible, and after reading a book called “The Divine Mentors,” I started to look at the different examples from the Scriptures as mentors that can teach me and help me to navigate through my own challenges and struggles. Jeremiah has become one of my best friends and mentor in the last several years. I also read another book about the life of Jeremiah, “Run with the Horses,” and this book has also helped me get to know Jeremiah better. Recently I talked about the prayer life of Jeremiah, and a podcast was published, but I felt I should also write this blog.

Jeremiah received a Word from God when he was still very young. Anyone would love to receive the same words that Jeremiah received, but very few would like to live the life that Jeremiah lived. He is called “the weeping prophet” because of the several times that he is weeping over the result of the hardness of the hearts of the people in Judah, their disobedience and idolatry. He was persecuted and almost killed for speaking the words that he heard from God, and even after decades of his faithfulness in speaking the word from God the people did not repent and return to the Lord.

At one point, like most of us, if not all of us, Jeremiah was talking to God and complaining and feeling sorry for himself. He was trying to make a point and God’s response is very clear and direct.

“You who know, O LORD, Remember me, take notice of me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away; Know that for Your sake I endure reproach. Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, Nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, For You filled me with indignation. Why has my pain been perpetual And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream With water that is unreliable? Therefore, thus says the LORD, “If you return, then I will restore you— Before Me you will stand; And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, But as for you, you must not turn to them. “Then I will make you to this people A fortified wall of bronze; And though they fight against you, They will not prevail over you; For I am with you to save you And deliver you,” declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 15:15–20, NASB95)

On another translation it says, “Because of this, the LORD said, “You must repent of such words and thoughts! If you do, I will restore you to the privilege of serving me. If you say what is worthwhile instead of what is worthless, I will again allow you to be my spokesman. They must become as you have been. You must not become like them.” (Jeremiah 15:19, NET)

This is a very important message and lesson for everyone walking with God. We can only have the privilege of serving Him when we are able to discipline out tongues and speak only what we hear from the Lord. This is the example that Jesus Christ also taught us.

“Jeremiah’s prayer is not pious, not nice, not proper—he speaks what he feels, and he feels scared, lonely, hurt and angry. Well enough. God’s part in the prayer is to restore and save. Before God in prayer we do not remain the same. The fright and loneliness and pain and accusation are all three, but they do not stay there. Part (not all) of what Jeremiah was doing was feeling sorry for himself on his knees. God feels our pains, but he does not indulge our self-pity. God is severe with Jeremiah as Jeremiah was severe with the people: “Repent. Turn away from that kind of feeling for it is destructive. Then I will restore you, and you will stand upright, ready to serve again, in my presence.”

It is not enough to remember; we must hear again. Prayer is the act in which we hear it again. It is not enough to carry memory verses around with us; we need daily encounter with the resonant voice of God. Prayer is that encounter. Situations change. Does God change? We pray. We listen. God speaks his word again—the same word!—and we are restored and renewed in our commitment.” Eugene Peterson – Run With the Horses, pgs. 100 and 101.

John 5:19
John 8:28
James 3:1-12