Lamentations 3:8
Even when I cry out and plead for help, He shuts out my prayer.
Sermons
Prayer not Immediately AnsweredJ. Udall.Lamentations 3:8
Prayers Shut OutJ. Trapp.Lamentations 3:8
Unheard PrayerJ.R. Thomson Lamentations 3:8
Unheeded PrayersJ. Parker, D. D.Lamentations 3:8
Unregarded PrayerJ. Sievewright, M. A.Lamentations 3:8
Ecce HomoJ. Donne, D. D.Lamentations 3:1-21
Punishment Seen in the BodyJ. Udall.Lamentations 3:1-21
The Man that Hath Seen AfflictionW. F. Adeney, M. A.Lamentations 3:1-21
The Personality of SorrowJ. Parker, D. D.Lamentations 3:1-21
The Sinner's HedgesHomilistLamentations 3:1-21
The Way of Life Hedged and Built UpJ.R. Thomson Lamentations 3:7-9


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.









Also when I cry and shout, He shutteth out my prayer.
I. Although our prayers were never, in a single instance, directly answered in this world, YET IS PRAYER NOT IN VAIN, FOE TO PRAY IS A COMMANDED DUTY; and to the dependent creature it can never be unprofitable to obey a Divine command. Prayer, in its very nature, tends to mortify sin, to compose our minds into a frame of devout dependence on Almighty power, and to maintain in us sentiments of habitual trust, and rejoicing confidence in God.

II. Though prayer be not immediately answered, IT MAY NEVERTHELESS BE ANSWERED AT SOME AFTER PERIOD, even in the present world. The glory of God, the arrangements of Providence, and our own good, may render delay expedient; but delay is not denial

III. The thing we ask MAY BE INCONSISTENT WITH THE RECTITUDE OF THE DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY, and on that account must necessarily be denied.

IV. IT IS NOT ALWAYS IN WRATH, HOWEVER, THAT OUR PRAYERS FOR OTHERS ARE NOT HEARD, BUT OFTEN IN MERCY TO THEM. In our fond attachment to children or to friends, we would detain them from God and glory, to suffer amid the evils of time. In our ignorance we ask things detrimental for ourselves as well as for others. In labour, poverty, and trouble, we seek ease, and peace, and competency, and freedom from affliction; but it may enter into God's plan for preserving and perfecting us, to withhold from us health and a prosperous state. And, besides, the thing we desired may be refused, in order to give us something better than we sought. Oh, what need there is of the Spirit to help our infirmities! for we know neither what we should pray for, nor as we ought.

V. When we pray to God, it becomes us to REMEMBER THE INFINITE DISTANCE BETWIXT THE CREATURE AND THE GLORIOUS CREATOR; AND THOUGH EARNEST, LET US BEWARE OF BEING WILFUL AND PEREMPTORY.

(J. Sievewright, M. A.)

God wants more than prayer from His creatures, when that prayer is limited to mere asking, or to the expression of a beggar's desires. Prayer may be but a religious form of selfishness. Asking must, of course, enter into prayer: every day brings its need; but what is prayer in its widest and most enduring acceptation? It is communion with God. When we omit this element, we degrade ourselves and our prayers to the level of selfishness, and when our prayer is so degraded it is shut out from heaven. There is no mystery in this. Let us always understand that we are accepted, not because of our formality, but because of our sincerity and earnestness and importunity. Good men in all ages have had experience of this exclusion of prayer from heaven, and sometimes they have misjudged it (Job 30:20; Psalm 22:2). It is well to have such experiences, terrible as they are at the moment of their realisation; they chasten the spirit, they are full of theological teaching, they drive us back to first principles, they constrain us to ask the most serious and penetrating questions. God will not allow such experiences to be unduly prolonged, for he knows that the extension of such trial would end in despair or madness. The Lord can take us very near to the brink, but He will not let us fall over.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

1. Afflictions do make the dullest and most forward of God's children cry for help (Leviticus 26:41; Psalm evil 6, 19, 28).

2. The heaviest plague that man can endure in this life is to have God refuse to hear his prayer when he calleth upon Him in distress (Proverbs 1:28; Jeremiah 14:11, 12).

3. God often deferreth to hear the prayer of His children, when He yet purposeth in due time to grant their requests (Psalm 22:1; Psalm 77:8).

(1)To try their patience, and exercise their faith.

(2)To move them to continue and to grow in fervency.

(J. Udall.)

Or shutteth His ear to my prayer. This was very grievous to any good heart; more than it could be to fully, a stranger to the true God, who yet bewaileth the matter to his brother in these words: "I would pray to the gods for those things; but that, alas! they have given over to hear my prayers."

(J. Trapp.)

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