The Prayer of Despair
Job 6:8, 9
Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!…

This is an awful prayer. Job longs for death, and prays God to crush him. Then there will be an end to his agonies. He has rejected his wife's temptation to suicide (Job 2:9); but he begs that God will take his life.

I. IT IS WELL TO BRING THE DESPAIR OF THE SOUL TO GOD. The despair is not utter and complete if it has not stifled the fountains of prayer. When it can be said of any one, "Behold, he prayeth," all hope is not yet gone. Although for the time being he had lost sight of it, still there is a point on which hope for better days may lay hold. When all things seem to be rushing to ruin, and there is no other outlook for the soul, the outlook to heaven is still open. If we can do nothing else, the way is still before us to cast our burden upon the Lord. Though the very prayer be one of horror and despair, like Job's, still it is a prayer. There is the saving element. The Soul is looking up to God. It is not quite alone in its desolation.

II. GOD UNDERSTANDS THE PRAYER OF DESPAIR. He is not like Job's purblind censor Eliphaz, who judged in ignorance and wounded when he thought to heal. The breaches of conventional propriety in religion, which shock the more precise sort of piety, are not thus misapprehended by God. He views all with a large eye of charity, with a penetrating discernment of sympathy. The wild utterance that only scandalizes the superficial hearer moves the compassion of the Father of spirits. He knows from what depths of agony it has been forced, and he pardons the extravagance of it in pity for its misery.

III. THE PRAYER OF DESPAIR IS FOOLISH AND SHORT-SIGHTED. These two words "prayer" and "despair," are quite incongruous. The one should utterly banish the other. If we quite understood the meaning and power of prayer, despair would be impossible. For prayer implies that God has not forgotten us; or why should one pray to heedless ears? When we carry our grief to God we bring it to Almighty Love, and such a haven must be more congenial to hope than to despair.

IV. GOD REFUSES TO ANSWER THE PRAYER OF DESPAIR, There are prayers which God will not answer, and that, not because he is inexorable, but because he is merciful; and as the mother is too kind to give her infant the flaming candles for which it cries, God is too good to bestow on his foolish children the evil things which they sometimes crave from his hand. Thus the very refusal to respond to the prayer is a result, not of disregarding it, but of giving to it more than that superficial attention which would have been enough for an unquestioning response. God sifts and weighs our prayers. We cannot present them as cheques on the bank of heaven, expecting immediate payment, exactly according to the measure of what we have set down in them. God is far better than our prayers. He exceeds our fears even when we beg him to act according to them. His sane mind corrects the wild fancies of our haste and passion. Therefore we need not shrink from the utmost freedom in prayer. God will not deal with us according to our words, but according to his love and our faith. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!

WEB: "Oh that I might have my request, that God would grant the thing that I long for,

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