Back

Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.

LESSON 5 - THE PRAYING PROPHET

INTRODUCTION: LETS REVIEW. JER PROPHECIED TO JUDAH JUST BEFORE IT
WAS CAPTURED AND JERUSALEM DESTROYED BY THE BABYLONIANS. (THE FIRST
DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM.)  OVER AND OVER AGAIN JER WARNED JUDAH
THAT IT WAS ITS IDOL WORSHIP THAT WOULD CAUSE THIS NATIONAL
CALAMITY.
     THIS  WEEK WE LOOK AT SEVERAL ASPECTS OF PRAYER AS THEY ARE
REVEALED IN THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH IN THE CONTEXT OF THESE WARNINGS.

I. THE DROUGHT

     A. READ JER 4:11-12. AND JER 14:2-6. WHAT IS THE IMMEDIATE 
     PROBLEM? (A LACK OF WATER. A DROUGHT.)

          1. ON A PERSONAL BASIS, WHAT WOULD BE AN EQUIVALENT 
          PROBLEM TODAY? (LACK OF JOB. LACK OF FOOD. LACK OF
          MONEY.)

          2. DO WE HAVE THESE PROBLEMS ON A NATIONAL BASIS? 
          DROUGHTS, FLOODS, WINDSTORMS, EARTHQUAKES?

          3. WHY DID JUDAH HAVE THIS PROBLEM? (BECAUSE OF THEIR 
          SINS. JER 5:24-25.)

          4. DO THESE KINDS OF THINGS HAPPEN TODAY BECAUSE OF SIN?

          5. WHEN WE HAVE A PROBLEM, OR WE HAVE A NATIONAL
          DISASTER, IS OUR FIRST THOUGHT, "DID I SIN TO CAUSE
          THIS?"

          6. SHOULD THIS BE OUR FIRST THOUGHT? DO OUR CHILDREN ASK
          THEMSELVES, "WHAT DID I DO TO CAUSE THIS?" (NO. OUR
          SINFUL HEARTS KEEP US FROM BLAMING OURSELVES. THESE
          PEOPLE DID NOT BLAME THEMSELVES EITHER. IN JER 5:19 WE
          SEE THEM BLAMING GOD FOR IT AND GOD CORRECTS THEM ON IT.)

          7. TURN TO JER 4:1-2. READ. THE IDEA HERE IS THAT YOU 
          COULD ONLY TAKE AN OATH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD ONLY IF
          YOU ACKNOWLEDGED HIM. ("AS YAHWEH LIVES" WAS THE USUAL
          FORMULA FOR AN OATH IN ANCIENT ISRAEL.)

               a. WHAT I WANT YOU TO LOOK AT IS THE LAST PART OF
               v.2 "THEN THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED BY HIM AND IN
               HIM THEY WILL GLORY." DOES THIS SUGGEST THAT THIS
               FORMULA OF OBEYING GOD, AND PRAYING TO GOD IS
               APPLICABLE TO NATIONS OTHER THAN JUDAH? (COULD MEAN
               THAT OR COULD MEAN THAT IF JUDAH REPENTED OTHER
               NATIONS WOULD BE BLESSED THROUGH IT.)

     B. SO FAR WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IDOL WORSHIP AS THE SIN
     OF JUDAH. HOW DOES THAT RELATE TO THE TOPIC OF PRAYER?
          1. IF YOU ARE WORSHIPPING IDOLS ARE YOU PRAYING TO THEM?
          2. AND IF YOU ARE WORSHIPPING GOD ARE YOU PRAYING TO HIM?
     (THE TWO SEEM TO BE ABSOLUTELY LINKED. YOU WORSHIP AN IDOL 
     BECAUSE YOU EXPECT TO GET SOMETHING FROM IT. SO WHATEVER YOU
     WORSHIP, YOU COMMUNICATE WITH IT.)

II. THE PRAYER
     A. READ JER 14:7. IS THIS THE RIGHT WAY TO START A PRAYER?
(JER ADMITS THAT THEY ARE SINNERS.)

          1. IS JER THE SINNER? OR IS HE CONFESSING SINS FOR 
          SOMEONE ELSE? (HE IS IDENTIFYING HIMSELF WITH HIS NATION,
          BUT HE IS ALSO CONFESSING THEIR SINS.)

          2. CAN WE CONFESS THE SINS OF SOMEONE ELSE? WILL THIS 
          WORK?

               a. DOES GOD ANSWER PRAYERS FOR THE SINFUL AND
               THE BACKSLIDER? (NO. SEE JER 14:11. INTERESTINGLY
               THIS IS THE THIRD TIME THAT JER IS TOLD NOT TO PRAY
               FOR THE PEOPLE. THAT MAY INFER THAT JER IS PRAYING
               FOR THEM ANYWAY. SEE JER. 7:16 AND 11:14)

          3. WHAT ABOUT THE PERSON WHO FASTS AND GIVES OFFERINGS?
          READ 14:12 (NO.)

     B. WHAT THEN IS THE FIRST THING THAT GOD SEEMS TO BE LOOKING
     FOR IN ORDER TO ANSWER THE PRAYER FOR THE WELL-BEING OF HIS
     PEOPLE? (14:20 -- CONFESS SIN.)

     C. I WANTED TO GET THROUGH THIS BEFORE I WENT BACK TO THIS 
     ISSUE OF OBTAINING FORGIVENESS OF SINS FOR SOMEONE ELSE AND
     THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PRAYING FOR SOMEONE ELSE. TURN WITH ME TO
     1 JOHN 5:14-16.
          1. DOES THE "GOD WILL GIVE HIM LIFE" OF v.16 MEAN THAT
          HIS SIN IS FORGIVEN? (I DON'T THINK SO. I THINK IT MEANS
          THAT WE PRAY FOR THE SINNER, AND GOD WILL SEND HIS SPIRIT
          TO STRIVE WITH THE PERSON AND IF THEY REPENT HE WILL BE
          GIVEN LIFE.)

          2. WHAT IS MEANT BY "A SIN THAT LEADS TO DEATH? (LOOK AT
          v.18. I THINK THIS IS THE KEY. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SIN
          THAT IS CONTRARY TO OUR GENERAL ATTITUDE TO FOLLOW GOD,
          AND A MINDSET TO CONTINUE IN SIN.)

     D. DO YOU REMEMBER THE DIALOG BETWEEN GOD AND AX ABOUT THE 
     FATE OF SODOM. AX'S DISCUSSION WITH GOD WAS A PRAYER.  READ
     GEN 18:20-26. FINALLY, IN v.32 AX GOT GOD DOWN TO 10 RIGHTEOUS
     MEN.

          1. SODOM WAS NOT ISRAEL. DID AX PRAY FOR THE UNSAVED? (IN
          A SENSE)
          2. DID GOD HEAR THE PRAYER FOR THE UNSAVED? (NO. HE WAS
          REALLY DISCUSSING THE SAVED AND THE UNSAVED WERE JUST
          PEOPLE THAT WERE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME.)

III. HOW TO PRAY

     A. THIS DISCUSSION ABOUT GOD'S JUSTICE: THAT SIN GETS REWARDED
     AND CAN BLOCK OUR PRAYERS-- MAY OBSCURE HIS LOVE TOWARDS US.
     LETS TURN TO JER 29:11-14 TO LEARN HOW WE SHOULD PRAY AND
     GOD'S ATTITUDE TOWARDS US. READ.

     B. IF GOD ALREADY HAS THESE GREAT PLANS FOR US, WHY DO WE NEED
     TO PRAY?
          1. WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE KEY TO GOD LISTENING TO HIS 
          PEOPLE? (29:13 "YOU WILL SEEK ME AND FIND ME WHEN YOU
          SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART.")

          2. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT THIS MEANS?

          3. LETS TURN FOR JUST A MINUTE TO 2 CHRONICLES 20. THIS
          IS ANOTHER TIME IN JUDAH'S HISTORY WHEN IT WAS THREATENED
          WITH INVASION BY ITS ENEMIES. JEHOSHAPHAT WAS THE KING
          AND HE WAS SURPRISED AND "ALARMED" THAT HIS ENEMIES WERE
          SO CLOSE. LETS READ v.5-13.

               a. WHAT DOES THIS TEACH US ABOUT "SEEKING THE LORD
               WITH ALL OUR HEART?" (v.12 "WE HAVE NO POWER TO
               FACE THIS" PROBLEM.  "WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO BUT
               OUR EYES ARE UPON YOU.")
          
          4. GOD SAYS IN v. 12 THAT HE WANTS US TO COME TO HIM, 
          CALL UPON HIM AND PRAY TO HIM.  (SEE 29:12)  

               a. WHAT DOES THIS REQUIRE OF US? (THE BIG
               CONTROVERSY WAS OVER WHO THE PEOPLE SERVED AND IN
               WHAT THEY PLACED THEIR TRUST. SO GOD SAYS COME WITH
               YOUR TRUST TO ME.)

               b. IS THAT WHAT JEHOSHPHAT AND THE PEOPLE DID?
(v.13.              EVERYONE STOOD BEFORE THE LORD.)

               c. WHAT ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITY WOULD HAVE BEEN 
               NATURAL? (TO BE PREPARING FOR WAR!) 

               d. READ JER 17:5-8.

IV. SUMMARIZE: GOD HAS BLESSINGS PLANNED FOR US. WE NEED TO BE
ALWAYS ALERT AND CRITICAL OF OUR WAYS. IF WE HAVE PROBLEMS, IT MAY
NOT BE BECAUSE OF OUR SINS, BUT WE NEED TO SERIOUSLY EXAMINE
OURSELVES.  GOD SAYS THAT HE IS NOT INTERESTED IN HELPING THOSE WHO
ARE IN REBELLION AGAINST HIM. BUT IF WE STAND BEFORE THE LORD, AND
PLACE OUR FULL DEPENDENCE UPON HIM, HE WILL INTERVENE FOR US AND
SAVE US.)

          

V. NEXT WEEK: OBEDIENCE