Restraining Prayer
Job 15:4
Yes, you cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God.

Eliphaz thinks that Job's wild words are a reproach to religion, and that the effect of them will be to undermine faith and discourage prayer. His is a common alarm of short-sighted, cautious people who think it safest to suppress doubt, and to whom the hasty utterances of a disturbed mind are most dreadful, although the fact is that the cold repetition of narrow and erroneous dogmas is far more hurt[hi to the cause of spiritual religion.

I. THE EVIL OF RESTRAINING PRAYER. However it may be brought about, there cannot be two opinions of the evil of this course of action. It may be said that we need not pray because God knows what we require without our telling him - knows it even better than we know it ourselves. The answer to this excuse or difficulty is that the object of prayer is not to add to God's information, but to commit our needs to him.

1. We lose what God gives in response to prayer. He expects us to entrust ourselves to him. He has bidden us seek his face (Psalm 27:8). Christ has told us to ask, that we may receive (John 16:24). St. James explains that we "have not" sometimes just "because we ask not" (James 4:2).

2. We miss the spiritual blessedness of prayer. The chief good of prayer is not in the gifts it calls down from heaven, but in the very exercise itself. It is a greater blessing than any of the things that it is the means of bringing to us. To be in communion with God is better than to receive any favours from God.

"Prayer is the Christian's vital breath." Restraining prayer is the soul holding its breath. This must end in death. Even when it is not complete, the stifling of the spiritual activities must result.


1. Whatever leads to unbelief. This was Eliphaz's thought, though he misapplied it, for he imagined that Job's extravagant utterances would discourage men's faith in religion and in the efficacy of prayer. But the truth is that the dreary formalism, the dismal orthodoxy which clung to antiquity and ignored spiritual instincts, the harsh uncharitableness that killed the spirit of religion while defending the name of it, were the greater hindrances to faith. When faith is thus hindered prayer freezes on our lips.

2. Worldly living. Some men are too busy to find time for prayer. But Luther is repotted to have said he had so much to do that he could not afford less than four hours a day for prayer, regarding prayer as the secret of strength for work. It is possible to be much in prayer, however, without giving a long time to acts of devotion; for prayer is inward and spiritual. It is not the occupation of one's time, but the ensnaring of one's heart with worldly things, that restrains prayer.

3. Sin. The penitent sinner may and will pray, casting himself on the mercy of God. Christ's model of the prayer that is acceptable to God is the cry of the penitent, "God, be merciful to me a sinner." But sin harboured and loved completely crushes the spirit of prayer. No man can really pray who will not renounce his sin. Of course, it is possible to cry out selfishly for some gift from God. But the real prayer, which is communion with God, must be repressed and restrained by sin, because sin is separation from God. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.

WEB: Yes, you do away with fear, and hinder devotion before God.

Restraining Prayer
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