“OH GOD! Help us!”
“All hope is gone. So, we turn to you.”
“Get us out of this mess we are in.”
“We are overwhelmed by the enemy, pull us out of danger!”
The man falling off the cliff prayed the fastest crisis prayer on record, “Saaaave me!” Suddenly his clothing was caught on a branch, stopping his fall. While dangling in the air, he told God, “Never mind, I’ve got this.” This is crisis-only praying. And God does not like crisis-only praying.
Jeremiah 11, The Message
The Terms of This Covenant
11 The Message that came to Jeremiah from God:
2-4 “Preach to the people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem. Tell them this: ‘This is God’s Message, the Message of Israel’s God to you. Anyone who does not keep the terms of this covenant is cursed. The terms are clear. I made them plain to your ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt, out of the iron furnace of suffering.
4-5 “‘Obey what I tell you. Do exactly what I command you. Your obedience will close the deal. You’ll be mine and I’ll be yours. This will provide the conditions in which I will be able to do what I promised your ancestors: to give them a fertile and lush land. And, as you know, that’s what I did.’”
“Yes, God,” I replied. “That’s true.”
6-8 God continued: “Preach all this in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. Say, ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and carry them out! I warned your ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt and I’ve kept up the warnings. I haven’t quit warning them for a moment. I warned them from morning to night: “Obey me or else!” But they didn’t obey. They paid no attention to me. They did whatever they wanted to do, whenever they wanted to do it, until finally I stepped in and ordered the punishments set out in the covenant, which, despite all my warnings, they had ignored.’”
9-10 Then God said, “There’s a conspiracy among the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. They’ve plotted to reenact the sins of their ancestors—the ones who disobeyed me and decided to go after other gods and worship them. Israel and Judah are in this together, mindlessly breaking the covenant I made with their ancestors.
11-13 “Well, your God has something to say about this: Watch out! I’m about to visit doom on you, and no one will get out of it. You’re going to cry for help but I won’t listen. Then all the people in Judah and Jerusalem will start praying to the gods you’ve been sacrificing to all these years, but it won’t do a bit of good. You’ve got as many gods as you have villages, Judah! And you’ve got enough altars for sacrifices to that impotent sex god Baal to put one on every street corner in Jerusalem!
14 “And as for you, Jeremiah, I don’t want you praying for this people. Nothing! Not a word of petition. Indeed, I’m not going to listen to a single syllable of their crisis-prayers.”
Promises and Pious Programs
15-16 “What business do the ones I love have figuring out
how to get off the hook? And right in the house of worship!
Do you think making promises and devising pious programs
will save you from doom?
Do you think you can get out of this
by becoming more religious?
A mighty oak tree, majestic and glorious—
that’s how I once described you.
But it will only take a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning
to leave you a shattered wreck.
17 “I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who planted you—yes, I have pronounced doom on you. Why? Because of the disastrous life you’ve lived, Israel and Judah alike, goading me to anger with your continuous worship and offerings to that sorry god Baal.”
* * *
18-19 God told me what was going on. That’s how I knew.
You, God, opened my eyes to their evil scheming.
I had no idea what was going on—naive as a lamb
being led to slaughter!
I didn’t know they had it in for me,
didn’t know of their behind-the-scenes plots:
“Let’s get rid of the preacher.
That will stop the sermons!
Let’s get rid of him for good.
He won’t be remembered for long.”
20 Then I said, “God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
you’re a fair judge.
You examine and cross-examine
human actions and motives.
I want to see these people shown up and put down!
I’m an open book before you. Clear my name.”
21-23 That sent a signal to God, who spoke up: “Here’s what I’ll do to the men of Anathoth who are trying to murder you, the men who say, ‘Don’t preach to us in God’s name or we’ll kill you.’ Yes, it’s God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaking. Indeed! I’ll call them to account: Their young people will die in battle, their children will die of starvation, and there will be no one left at all, none. I’m visiting the men of Anathoth with doom. Doomsday!”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Crisis only praying is not what God desires from his people. Daily communication with God followed by obedience will “close the deal” of a growing, intimate relationship with God. This is what I’m learning from Jeremiah who speaks for God to God’s people who are crisis-only-praying to merely get out of the trouble they put themselves in by worshiping and sacrificing to other gods. I don’t know about you, but I’m learning that worshipping other gods, giving time to along with sacrificing to all the gods of this world takes more work than worshiping the One and Only God who speaks, hears, listens, loves, provides, protects, and heals—the God who is always at work on our behalf.
God gives us all we need. God deserves a lot more from us than crisis-only praying. He loves hearing from us daily and loves to walk with us, helping us through all the details of our lives each day. What can we give the Lord? Complete obedience. Full attention. Generous giving. Loving sacrifice of all our hearts, minds and souls to His guidance. “Pray without ceasing” means just that—constant communication avoids crisis-only praying. (See Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Paul describes this “daily” walk to new believers in Jesus clearly and understandably:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2, MSG
There is no longer a need for crisis praying when we know God is already at work in our lives daily. He is there solving our “crisis” before we arrive in the chaos. Those who really believe in God, believe in all He is capable of doing and being. We know that God is always at work and will do what is best to accomplish His will. Even when bad things happen to us or around us, God will turn all the bad to good in miraculous ways. His glory will be seen when what is meant for evil is used for good. That’s God.
Trust in other gods? Mm, I don’t think so. I will trust in God who is forever faithful, unconditional loving, with generous grace and mighty mercy. I will leave all the other gods in this world that try to take my time or distract me and lean into the God of all.
Crisis-only praying could be a sign of crisis of faith.
Thank you for this dally time together to learn from you, hear your voice, be encouraged by you with guidance from your Holy Spirit with lessons of obedience to you. Thank you for always being with us. Thank you for solving our problems before we are in crisis. May we avoid crisis of faith and grow in our knowledge of you—daily.
In Jesus Name, Amen