Introduction: A first grader in my wife’s class was discouraged
because his little life was not going well. He confided in my wife,
“I don’t know why this is happening to me, I pay my tithe!” Does
this little guy express your feelings sometimes? Something bad is
happening in your life and you cannot understand why God is allowing
it to happen? Do you pray and it seems that God is not answering or
not giving the answer you deserve? One of the most encouraging
stories in the Bible is the story of Job. Let’s jump in and see what
we can learn about his prayers in times of great discouragement!
- Job’s Background
- Read Job 1:1-3. What kind of man was Job? (He was
righteous and rich! God called him “blameless.”)
- Read Job 1:4-5. What was one of Job’s greatest concerns?
(He was concerned about the spiritual welfare of his
- Why do you think Job purified his children by a
sacrifice after each of the feasts? (It appears there
is something about his children’s activities during
the feasts that worried Job.)
- The Bible does not say that Job attended these
feasts. Any idea why not?
- Job’s Disaster
- Let’s skip down to Job 1:13-15. The stock market has been
in a nosedive lately. How many oxen and donkeys did Job
lose in the Greenspan (sorry, Sabean) crash? ( Job 1:3 –
500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys.)
- What do you think Job thought when he heard this?
(Most of his wealth was in camels and sheep, not oxen
and donkeys. So his wealth was still intact.)
- Read Job 1:16-17. How many sheep and camels did Job lose?
( Job 1:3 – 7,000 sheep and 3,000 camels.)
- What do you think Job thought now? (He was ruined
- Do you think the difference in the way the oxen and
donkeys and the sheep and camels were lost is
significant? (I would guess that “raiders” were a
common problem. Fire coming from heaven was not. This
made the second disaster look like a punishment from
God and not just an unfortunate event.)
- Read Job 1:18-19. Job’s children, all ten of them, are
killed during a feast at the eldest son’s home. What do
you think Job thought about his children being killed
during a feast? (This was the time when he was most
concerned about their spiritual welfare (see Job 1:5).)
- What would your frame of mind be if this series of
disasters happened to you?
- Since we are studying prayer this quarter, what kind
of prayer would you pray? Would you, like the little
first grader, pray “God what are you doing to me? I
pay my tithe (or mention whatever spiritual service
you consider most important)!” Let’s turn next to
- Job’s Prayers: Prayer 1
- Read Job 1:20-22. What do you think about Job’s prayer?
Is it the prayer you would have prayed?
- Would you have praised God?
- What elements are missing from Job’s prayer that you
would have included in your prayer? (Why did this
happen? Why did you allow this to happen to ME?
Please restore my wealth! Please save (eternally) my
- What I like about the book of Job is that it answers the
“How come” question right up front. It is an astonishing
story that Job would not have guessed in a million years.
Let’s look at it right now. Read Job 1:6-12.
- Who is in control of disasters? (God)
- Who causes disasters? (Satan)
- When God “strikes” (v.11) a person, how does it
happen? (God allows it. Satan does it.)
- Do you agree with me that Job never could have
guessed this background, this cause for his
- In light of this “inside” knowledge, is Job’s prayer
in 1:20-22 correct?
- Job’s Prayers: Prayer 2
- Our story continues that Satan sees God again and this
time gets permission to adversely affect Job’s health. In
the context of this additional disaster, the loss of his
health, read Job 6:8-13.
- What is Job praying that God will do? (Let him die.)
- Why does he want to die? (He is suffering constant
pain (v.10), he has no hope for the future (vv. 11-13) and he has not denied God (v.10).)
- Do you think he is considering denying God?
(Verse 10 surely makes it seem that he is saying
“Kill me while I am still faithful.)
- Does physical pain make it more difficult to
clearly think about God? (Illness generally
affects your mental attitude. I think it is more
difficult for faith to handle.)
- Read Job 6:14. What does this add to your view
about Job’s diminishing trust in God? (Comparing
several versions of the Bible, the translation
is not clear. The NIV seems to say that Job is
begging his friends for support because his
relationship with God is deteriorating. What is
unclear is whether Job is simply referring to
his friends view of his relationship with God or
his actual relationship. If you look at what
Job says before this you will see that his
attitude is that he remains faithful to a God
who is beating him up! This certainly signals
some change in his attitude.)
- Job’s Prayer: Prayer 2
- Read Job 9:29, 32-35. What does Job want to do to God? To
what does he want God to agree? (He wants to “sue” God. He
wants God to agree to binding arbitration. He wants
someone to mediate between God and him and decide who is
right and who is wrong.)
- Is Job questioning God’s fairness?
- Let’s continue by reading Job 10:1-4. What word would you
use to summarize Job’s attitude towards God now?
(“Complaining.” He is telling God he thinks his situation
is unfair. God is enjoying beating him up while at the
same time blessing the wicked (v.3).)
- Do you think it is appropriate for Job to complain to
God and tell God he wants to sue him?
- What is good and what is bad about complaining to God
in our prayers?
- Is it a sin to complain? Or, does God want to hear
our complaints? (Recall the story of Israel leaving
Egypt and then refusing to enter into Canaan because
it did not trust God to defeat the Canaanites. Read
Numbers 14:11. The worst thing is to ignore God – to
treat Him with contempt. When Job was complaining to
God the good thing was that he was acknowledging
God’s power over the situation. Therefore,
complaining is better than rejecting God. If you
continue in Numbers 14 and read verses 26-30 you will
see that God does not, however, enjoy constant
- Perhaps the most famous statement in Job is found in Job
13:14-19. Our lesson says, “Through the ages, Job’s
declarations of hope have brightened the pathway of
Christians everywhere.” It then directs us to read Job
- Do you agree this is a declaration of hope?
- Is Job showing his unwavering faith in God? (He is
showing he believes in God. But he is saying that he
(Job) is right and he will argue his point with God
even though God kills him for it! I find it hard to
see this as a declaration of hope. It says “I’m going
to battle this out with you and press my point even
if you kill me.” The New Living Translation renders
Job 13:14 this way: “Yes, I will take my life in my
hands and say what I really think. God might kill me,
but I cannot wait. I am going to argue my case with
- God’s Response to Job
- If you were God, how would you react to Job’s prayers?
- How would you describe the “path” of Job’s prayers?
- Knowing the background you do, is God being unfair to Job?
- Do you think God should explain Himself to Job?
Especially since He has a good explanation?
- Why do you think God has explained the situation
- Let’s read God’s response to Job. Read Job 38:1-5. What is
God saying to Job? Does He explain what is going on? (God
does not answer Job’s questions. He just says, “Who do you
think you are compared to Me?”)
- God continues in this vein of showing Job he is
nobody for the rest of chapter 38 and chapter 39.
Let’s read Job 40:1-2. Would you be happy with God’s
“Who do you think you are?” response.
- Read Job 40:3-4. How does Job answer? Has his
- Are you happy with God’s answer? How would you apply
God’s answer to problems in your life?
- What is the lesson of the book of Job when trouble
comes to our lives? (First of all, I thank God for
giving us the “behind the scenes” answer in Job. God
wants us to know He is fair. Second, we must not
lose sight of God’s view that we need to trust Him
and not question Him. We cannot begin to understand
all of what God has to deal with. Although He showed
us here that He is fair, we may not always see this.
God’s answer to us is to just trust Him – even though
we do not understand.)
- Friend, will you just trust God when problems hit your
life? Or, like Job, will you demand that God explain
Himself to you? Although God said Job was a “perfect”
man, the lesson of this book, the lesson for our prayers
is just to trust God. Job’s original prayer ( Job 1:20-22)
is our best prayer.
- Next Week: A Prayer of Supplication: Moses.