Chapters fourteen and fifteen consist of a kind of conversation between Jeremiah and God. Prayer is not a monologue but a dialogue; there are two ends to the telephone line. Are you listening as well as talking?
Jeremiah was driven to prayer by a time of drought (1-6). These verses paint a desperate picture and must be linked to the nation’s breaking of the covenant (Deuteronomy 28:12, 14; Leviticus 26:19, 20). It wasn’t just a natural disaster. In the rainy seasons that normally occurred, the ‘’cisterns’’ (3) would fill up with water as a result of flash flooding. But at this terrible time there was no water. (I couldn’t help but think that some people experience the spiritual equivalent of verse 3 when they attend certain churches!) The ‘’doe’’ is a creature renowned for her care for her young (5) and the ‘’wild donkeys’’ were among the hardiest of animals (6). These, then, were desperate times indeed.
In (7-9) Jeremiah presents the pleas of the people before God:
-Their confession of sin and backsliding (7);
– Their desire for God to do something for the sake of His Name (7; see also 21);
– Their sense that although God was with them, His presence was not being manifested; they were aware of His presence among them, but also conscious of His inactivity. He felt like a ‘’stranger’’ to them; like a ‘’traveller’’ who had moved on (8); like someone who should have been able to help, but couldn’t (9). ‘’Why are you acting like a tourist, taking in the sights, here today and gone tomorrow? Why do you just stand there and stare, like someone who doesn’t know what to do in a crisis? But GOD, you are, in fact, here, here with us! You know who we are – you named us! Don’t leave us in the lurch.’’ The Message. ( ‘’…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…The Lord Jesus could do infinitely more in us, and through us, if we did not hinder. Be sure that the Kingdom of God is within, but you must let it possess you.’’ F.B. Meyer. )
– Their request that God should not forsake them.
God’s answer in (10-12) shows that the people’s confession was but words. Although it sounded sincere enough, God saw right through it. There was no genuine repentance in evidence (10; see 3:10; 15:6, 7; Isaiah 59:1,2). They mourned for their land but not for their sins; they were sorry for their plight but not for their evil. So God told Jeremiah not to pray for them anymore (7:16; 11:14). They had past the point of no return. Not even fasting could help now: ‘’When they skip their meals in order to pray, I won’t listen to a thing they say.’’ The Message. True confession involves forsaking sin (Proverbs 28:13). It is more than just repetitively saying ‘Sorry’ to God. Note the ‘’this people’’ in (10, 11) and compare with the covenantal ‘’my people’’ (9:7).
(The trio of disasters mentioned in verse 12b is intended to cover the full range of human misery. The curses for breaking the covenant, found in Deuteronomy 28:15-68, are basically variations on these themes.)
Prayer: Lord God, may nothing in me prevent the outflowing of your power.