Jeremiah prays one of the humblest prayers of all the Bible in 10:23-24, “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O Lord, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.” Listen to each element of this prayer and consider using it in your life.
“The way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” He begins with the humble admission that he doesn’t know how to direct his own life in a way that honors the Lord. Coupled with what follows he is also admits that he has made wrong choices and has walked a wrong path before the Lord. He openly confesses his own sinful human limitations to the Lord.
Next he asks God to correct him. If we pause there for a moment we have to admit this is a scary thought. Imagine all the ways that he potentially has displeased the Lord and he invites God to correct him. The God of who Scripture reveals is a consuming fire is entreated to bring his correction in the life of his prophet. How terrifyingly traumatic that can be.
But he tempers that request by asking God to correct him in his justice, not his anger, because he knows that God’s anger would literally wipe him out (see v. 25). Jeremiah knows that God is also a God of mercy and grace and he longs for God to deal with him in that way. As the writer of Hebrews shows, God disciplines his children with love (Hebrews 12:5-11). So Jeremiah prays for God’s tough love to be displayed in his own life. How about you? Are you ready and willing?
Prayer: Father, make us willing and eager to receive your divine correction. Open our hearts to confession of our sins and a desire for your discipline of love. Thank you that we know that you have received us in Christ and we will never be cast away. But also direct us in the steps we should go for we are not wise in and of ourselves.