Theology of Prayer: Scriptural Support (Part 5: Job)

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Though the text doesn’t say he prayed, and even though he is in the presence of his friends, the words Job cries out in Job 7 are prayer-like indeed. After speaking and hearing from Eliphaz, Job requests for God to remember him and that he is but temporary. He explicitly lets God hear his mind. He’s upset that God is terrorizing him in his dreams. He tells God that he would rather have death than his life. He asks why God would test humans. He asks God to show him his wrongdoing. Here we see that prayer is something like a conversation, or it is at least speaking the mind. He asks God questions. He wants answers. He is introspective: he wants to know what he has done wrong to deserve the tragedies that have befallen him, and he wants God to reveal those wrongdoings to him. But it is important to note here that prayer is seen as speaking the mind openly and honestly. He does not accuse God of wrongdoing. But he does understand that God is in charge and is testing him.

In Job 10, he continues to speak his mind to God. He asks more questions, seeking more answers. He pleads, in the end, for God to turn away from him, so that he might have a moment’s joy before he dies. Here we see an open, honest, and real Job speaking his mind to God. 

In Job 13, his tone changes. He is confident that if he pleads his case, God will vindicate him. He asks God to withdraw his hand; he asks God to stop terrifying him. He asks God to show him his sins.

In Job 14, his tone switches. He is sure that human life is futile. Then in Job 16 throws up the white flag. He tells God, “You have worn me out.” In chapter 17, he asks God for the pledge that he requires so as to gain his protection. Then he identifies his low position, that he is nothing but a laughingstock. 

In Job 30, he tells God, “I cry out to you, but you do not answer.” He is still speaking his mind. He simply says, “When I hoped for good, evil came.” He seems to be trying to make sense of what he was experiencing. He was righteous and blameless, but the way he understood things wasn’t happening. He was not being blessed. 

Then, in Job 40, the Lord charges Job to answer him. The Lord has shown up and is now addressing Job directly. Earlier, Job was intent to bring forth his defense. Now, he dare not speak to the Lord. Job had been asking all sorts of questions. Now it is the Lord’s turn to ask questions. Job has no reply to the Lord’s questions. In chapter 42, he simply states, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Then the Lord claims that Job had been speaking the truth all along, whereas his friends were speaking folly. He commands his friends to make a sacrifice and have Job pray for them, so that the Lord’s anger would be appeased. 

In Job, we see that prayer is request, as at the end. But we also see that prayer can be simple and open communication in which one speaks the mind to God. Prayer can involve asking questions and seeking answers. Prayer can involve seeking for the Lord to reveal one’s sins. Prayer is an opportunity for introspection. Prayer provides the time to contemplate the Lord’s ways.