Don’t bother praying for those people; it won’t do any good. That’s what God said! He said, it’s a waste of time to pray for them because I’m not going to listen and I won’t help them. Really? Who was He talking about? ISIS? Babylon? Nope. He was talking about His own, Chosen People. He’d had enough. Here it is, straight out of the Bible:
16 “As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you. (Jeremiah 7:16)
Obviously His own people had done something very offensive to lead to that attitude from the same God Who rescued them from slavery, provided them a land “flowing with milk and honey,” and protected them from their hostile neighbors. What had they done that was so bad?
17 Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger. (Jeremiah 7:17-18)
Today, this same evil masquerades as religious tolerance. “All gods are the same; all religions are equally valid.” “I won’t teach my children about God because I want them to choose which god to worship – if any.” Go far enough down that road and you can forget about praying. The real God won’t be listening.
But, in case this sounds to you as though God has an ego problem, consider, when He brought His people out of slavery, the first thing He taught them was this:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3)
His motivation was not for His own fame or esteem but for their well being. Here’s the rest of what He said to Jeremiah:
22 For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. (Jeremiah 7:22-23)
Laced through all the tough, “don’t bother praying” passages in this prophecy, is the invitation and plea for His people to turn back and be restored. God isn’t being cruel. He alone is God. He knows what works and what does not.