Jeremiah 14:9

The prophet's words, as he intuitively places himself in the position of those who are about to be afflicted. Not, therefore, to be regarded as an ideal prayer, but a true representation of the spiritual state of those who are conscious of their sin and their need of salvation. They explain the lack of apparent answer to prayer, and truthfully interpret the spiritual condition of the awakened sinner.

I. PRAYER IS AN INDEX OF THE SPIRITUAL STATE. Here we have the oscillation between fear and hope, doubt and faith, vividly portrayed. There is a flitting to and fro of the soul between the extremes of dejection and of confidence. All real prayer ought thus faithfully to represent the mind of the petitioner. It is a laying bare of secret thoughts and moral convictions; an unconscious as well as a conscious confession. Whilst it may be said that a man's inner being is revealed in his prayer, he is not to be judged by it by his fellow men. It is only God who can truly understand the indications which it affords, and only he who has a right to interpret them. There is a rising, a falling, and a rising again in the course of the prayer. It is the Name of God which serves as a reminder and spiritual confirmation.

II. PRAYER IS A SPIRITUAL EXERCISE AND A MEANS OF GRACE. There is evident in this utterance a wrestling with unbelief. Memories of evil crowd upon the soul and seem to darken the horizon. The sinful nation confesses that in itself there is no hope, but as that conviction is arrived at, another asserts itself, namely, that God is the Hope of Israel, and that in his name or character there is the promise and potency of restoration. It is in spiritual transitions like these that the soul is lost and found again. Temptation is anticipated and overcome, sin is cast away, and God is throned in the heart, It is better to make such honest discovery of ourselves to God, even in our weakness and lack of faith, than that we should carry these into the conduct of life. It is in these transitions of despair and hope reaching to and resting in restored faith and settled purpose of righteousness, that the overcoming of the world is already accomplished.

III. THE PRAYER THAT SEEMS TO BE REJECTED NOW MAY YET PROVE A CONDITION OF ACCEPTANCE. Had Israel herself really adopted the words of this her representative mediator, she would have escaped the awful abyss that yawned before her, but she knew not the day of her opportunity. By slow stages of recovery, marked by many relapses, was she to climb to the great truth from which she had fallen, that the Name of God was her salvation and hope. So it is that many a prayer uttered without apparent answer supplies in itself a spiritual condition of ultimate blessing. Its answer is really begun in the change of attitude assumed, and the spiritual truth laid hold of. By-and-by irresolution and uncertainty will give place to faith, and the windows of heaven will be opened. - M.

Why shouldst Thou a mighty man that cannot save?
A strong man may be rendered powerless by a reel of cotton being wound around him. Each thread so brittle, yet all together is irresistible. So a large number of inconsistencies and insincerities may make God powerless to help you, or to work mightily through you to the salvation of others. He may be in the midst of you, and you may be called by His name; great issues for His kingdom and glory may seem at stake; mighty possibilities within your reach! and yet He is as a mighty man that cannot save. There is might enough in God to save the weakest and sinfullest of His children; and you are unsaved because of the limitations you have placed upon Him.

1. You are not absolutely willing to be delivered from your sins.

2. You do not entirely believe in His power and will.

3. You have not definitely handed the whole matter over to Him, and believed that He has accepted the charge.

4. Or — and this is perhaps the deepest reason of all — you have formed your own ideas of Divine truth, and of the possible Christian life. And having formed your own conception of the true ideal of Christianity, you have thenceforth lived within the limitations of your ideal, which is bounded by human wisdom and human thought. And so you never come to a thorough knowledge of the indwelling of Christ, or what He is prepared to do for you; or, catching a glimpse of it from afar, you are not sufficiently delivered from the reasonings and workings of your mind to give Him that opportunity for which He waits and yearns.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

O Lord.... leave us not.

1. Times of joy. Our prosperity will ruin us, if God be not with us.

2. Times of adversity.

3. Times of labour.

4. Times of perplexity.


1. All need to pray thus. For all deserve to be abandoned.

2. All must pray thus. For all desire continuance of His presence.

3. All will pray thus. For all know the bitterness of soul consequent upon His withdrawal


1. For it is according to His will.

2. For it honours His name.

(R. A. Griffin.)

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