Unheard Prayer
Lamentations 3:8
Also when I cry and shout, he shuts out my prayer.

There were seasons when it seemed to the prophet that God not only refused to interpose in his behalf, but refused even to listen to his prayer. In such faithless and yet not unnatural imaginations and fears many truly pious natures have participated. Complaints are made by the afflicted that they have prayed, but have prayed in vain; that God has "shut out" their prayer.

I. THERE IS PRAYER WHICH GOD DOES SHUT OUT, i.e. THE PRAYER OF SELFISHNESS AND SIN. Men ask and receive not, because they ask amiss. They ask for gifts which God has never promised to bestow and which he has never encouraged them unreservedly to desire. There are bad things which men ask God for and which it would harm the suppliants to receive. There are things not bad in themselves, the bestowal of which, however, upon certain persons and in certain circumstances would be spiritually harmful. Such gifts are withheld, not in malevolence, but in mercy.

II. THERE IS PRAYER WHICH IS NOT UNHEARD, BUT THE ANSWER TO WHICH IS NOT IMMEDIATE AND IS NOT JUST WHAT IS EXPECTED. Denial is one thing, delay is another. Perhaps it may be said that every true prayer is both heard and answered. Forevery acceptable petition takes the tone of our Saviour's ever memorable and incomparable prayer, "Not my will, O my Father, but thine, be done." Misinterpretation is to be avoided. The reason of delay, of seeming denial, is to be sought in ourselves. God often withholds for a season, in order to awaken our faith and submission, what he intends eventually to confer. - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.

WEB: Yes, when I cry, and call for help, he shuts out my prayer.

Prayers Shut Out
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