Therefore pray not you for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me…
The text a distinct instance. We remark -
I. SUCH PROHIBITION OF PRAYER SEEMS VERY STRANGE. Are we not bidden "pray without ceasing," "in all things by prayer and supplication... make our requests known unto God?" Are we not promised, "Ask, and ye shall receive?" Did not the Lord say, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint?" And, in a case more nearly resembling the one before us in the text, did not Samuel say to the rebellious people of his day, "But God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you?"
II. IT IS NEVERTHELESS A FACT. And this prohibition is repeated (Jeremiah 11:14; Jeremiah 14:11; cf. also Exodus 32:10).
III. AND WE HAVE WHAT IS SIMILAR NOW. There is no express command not to pray for the reversal of the laws of nature. But yet we never do pray for such things. David's servants wondered that when his child was dead he should altogether cease from fasting and prayer; but he answered, "Wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again?" (2 Samuel 41:23). And even before death has actually taken place, when there is no hope of life, we find it all but impossible to pray for such life. And so in regard to what we know would be derogatory to the honor of God and his righteousness; we should never think of praying for aught like that. Or for what cannot be in the nature of things. Now, in all these things it is as if we had been prohibited to pray for them, seeing that we never do so pray. As children give over praying their parents to do this or that when they see by the expression of their countenance that it cannot be, and, on the contrary, when they see the faintest look of "yes," they urge their request with a renewed importunity of clamor; so is it in our prayers before God. We must see the look of "yes" on the face of God in more or less degree, or our prayers die down. But if it be seen, then they rise up, press on and forward with a vigor unknown before. This is a law of all prayer. And in regard to prayer for such as are told of in the text, it may be that Jeremiah was not expressly told in so many words that he was not to pray for them, but it was borne in upon his mind that he could not. And it is sadly possible that such conviction may be borne in upon the minds of God's people now concerning' some reprobate ones. There comes, over the soul the deep feeling that such and such a one "is joined to his idols, and that you can only "let him alone" The disciples of the Lord were bidden, when their message was spurned, to cast off the dust of their feet as a testimony against them. Paul did so with the hardened Jews. And such solemn conviction as to the utter godlessness of any on the part of a company of God's people is that "binding on earth" which will be ratified by, because it is but the result of, the "binding in heaven." They of whom the Church feels deeply that "their sins are retained," those sins are retained. And so through this solemn conviction, this despair of the soul's turning to God, prayer for such soul may become impossible. God has practically said concerning such to his people, "Pray not thou for this people, neither," etc.
IV. THIS IS A FACT OF MOST MOMENTOUS IMPORT TO THOSE WHOM IT CONCERNS. To be given up by God's servants may be the token that you are given up by God. Their feeling about you may be - we do not say necessarily is, but may be - but the reflection of God's. Happy are they who put joy and gladness into the hearts of God's servants, and for whom they with earnestness and strong faith can pray. But sad is the outlook of those for whom those same servants of God feel they cannot pray. Oh, pray that prayers for you may never be counted by God or by his people as amongst prohibited prayers! - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.
WEB: Therefore don't pray for this people, neither lift up a cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me; for I will not hear you.