Let us examine our ways and test them,
    and let us return to the Lord.
41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands
    to God in heaven, and say:
42 “We have sinned and rebelled
    and you have not forgiven.

43 “You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us;
    you have slain without pity.
44 You have covered yourself with a cloud
    so that no prayer can get through.
45 You have made us scum and refuse
    among the nations.

46 “All our enemies have opened their mouths
    wide against us.
47 We have suffered terror and pitfalls,
    ruin and destruction.”
48 Streams of tears flow from my eyes
    because my people are destroyed.

‘God sees hearts as we see faces.’ George Herbert

I had scribbled a note in my Bible, at some point, next to verse 41a: ‘hands without hearts is not worship.’

Although God desires outward change, He also wants inward renewal. Jeremiah is calling for sincere repentance, and it must start with the heart. ‘The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.’ Christianity is fundamentally a religion of the heart.

Jeremiah says, ‘Look, the situation is serious. Let’s not merely lift our hands in some outward formality of prayer, but let our cries rise from our breaking hearts.’

Something of the desperate times they were in is conveyed in verse 44. If we cherish sin in our hearts the Lord will not listen (Psalm 66:18). Something has got to happen in the hearts of the people if there is to be any remedy. Cosmetic change will not do.

So it is for us.

What needs to happen in your heart today?