Teach Us To Pray (Jeremiah 1:4–10)

(4 minute read)

Read Jeremiah 1:4–10:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Simply put, prophets speak the words of God. The seal of the prophet is “thus says the Lord,” and it is repeated in the hundreds throughout Scripture. These people had no ideas but God’s, no voice but God’s, for as the New Testament reminds us "no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Peter 1:21). The first step to speaking like this is listening. Isaiah and Jeremiah both have their mouths touched by God. Ezekiel and John are both told to swallow a scroll. Many were given visions to describe and share. If we want to hear (let alone speak) God’s word and will, we must replace both our excuses and our eagerness to speak with patience to pay attention.

Practice a prayerful awareness of your speech this week. Start by spending time in prayer, not filling it with your words, but simply praying "you have given me an open ear” (Psalm 40:6). Throughout the day, filter everything you feel compelled to say through Peter’s words to the Church: “whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God" (1 Peter 4:11). Two things may happen. First, you find yourself silent more often and less eager to speak, because not everything that comes to mind is worth saying. Second, you feel compelled to offer words in situations that you would normally avoid, because your ears are more open to hear God’s own voice that both convicts and comforts—“to destroy and demolish, to build and to plant.” Speaking like this is not easy or popular; it requires discipline and humility and the willingness to go against the grain of the world around you. This is why James urges us to take the prophets as an example of “suffering and patience” (James 5:10).

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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Deeper Dive Podcast (Jeremiah)

About the Author

Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC