“As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you – Jeremiah 7:16
Wow! I bet you didn’t expect to see that statement in the Bible. You would be correct to surmise that something serious is going on here that God would tell Jeremiah not to pray for people of Israel.
The context is where we find our answer. God spoke to Jeremiah about the spiritual condition of the people of Israel. They context is the temple worship and the priests appear to be proclaiming the value of being at the temple (v. 1-4). The problem is that while God’s people are gathering to worship God, give of their tithes and offerings, they were also very busy worshipping other gods and serving the pagan idols of the other cultures. God’s house had become a “den of robbers” (v. 11). God called them to amend their ways (v. 3, 5-6) and learn to truly care for others and do what was right in God’s eyes, he would forgive them and keep them in the land.
You will have to read the chapter to get the feel for God’s frustration with His people. They have done evil, they are not committed to caring for one another and they have been very unfaithful to the Lord. One particular section that is a bit disturbing is verse 13:
“… and now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer…” Jeremiah 7:13.
So God finally comes around to Jeremiah and makes the statement to NOT pray or intercede for His people. He emphatically tells Jeremiah, don’t pray for these people! Amazing and almost unbelievable. But God has pursued them and they just keep on ignoring God. They won’t change their ways and they rationalize everything. I wonder if they ever used the argument that we are just trying to be culturally relevant… sorry had to throw that in there because it is the risk that we face.
But God is fed up with His people. They are unashamed about their sin and behavior and they won’t listen to God. All that matters to them is their own success and pleasure. There is a time if God’s people persist in their sin that God will not listen to them.
Psa. 66:18 – If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear;
James 4:2-4 – You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and ado not receive, because you ask 1with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
There are times that praying won’t do any good. Jeremiah was in a situation that God told him to stop praying. James reminds us that we don’t have because we don’t ask and the reason that we don’t receive when we do ask is because we are selfish. The final admonition comes from 1 Peter 3:7 – You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
If God is not answering our prayers there are some reasons that might be happening. We need to take stock of our lives and align ourselves to living holy, righteously and godly in this world.