In the past several weeks, we have discussed prayer and its many forms and trustfully, I hope we are exercising our duty and privilege to pray daily for ourselves, for others, our nation and our world.
I am reading from Jeremiah 10:17-24. “Gather up your wares from the land, O inhabitant of the fortress. For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will throw out at this time the inhabitants of the land and will distress them that they may find it so.’ Woe is me for my hurt. My wound is severe. But I say, ‘Truly this is an infirmity and I must bear it.’My tent is plundered and all my cords are broken. My children have gone from me and they are no more. There is no one to pitch my tent anymore, or set up my curtains. For the shepherds have become dull hearted and have not sought the Lord; therefore they shall not prosper and all their flocks shall be scattered. Behold, the noise of the report has come, and a great commotion out of the North Country to make the cities of Judah desolate, a den of jackals. O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Lord, correct me, but with justice, not in Your anger, let You bring me to nothing.”The nation is about to fall to an external enemy. In this time of collapse of his beloved city, Jerusalem, Jeremiah speaks for the whole nation with his matchless prayer. He has warned and ridiculed. He has sounded like a trumpet the call to repentance and return to God. Sometimes, he has despaired. “My tent is destroyed, and all my cords are broken,” said the prophet of old.
Jerusalem is under siege and cannot last. Its days are numbered. There is in the air a rumor of disaster and in the eyes of the people a look of defeat. None of their idols can save them now. None of their lies can rescue them. Death has come up to their very windows as the prophet had warned in Chapter 9, Verse 21.From seeing and saying all of this, Jeremiah’s terrible passion moves on across the verses until it muffles itself in a tense and profound prayer. “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps,” we read.
Here, as it has been said, is a prayer not only for Jerusalem, but also for the whole of humanity — a confession delirious with its suffering and terrified with the insufficiency of everything human. And the answer is not better armies or greater cleverness. The answer is not funding and planning.
The answer is this: Correct us, O Lord, as the prophet prays in Verse 24. And the everlasting answer to that muted, aching prayer is this: “To you this day is born a Savior Who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
Father, we have no adequacy of our own. We are empty until You fill us and desolate until You come to us. Help us, by Your Holy Spirit, to kick sin out of our lives and then all of our attitudes will be right. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, amen and amen.The Rev. Delmar Dabney was a spiritual inspiration in Southeast Texas for many years before his death in 1994. This and other messages from his daily television show are featured here regularly