Biblical Prayer: Conversations with God – Moses

Exodus 3:1-15, Drop what you’re doing.
Exodus 4:1-18, Excuses probably won’t do you any good.
Exodus 6:1-13, 6:28-7:2, Keep going back for directions.
Exodus 17:1-7, Ask for help.
Exodus 32:1-14, Pray for others.
Numbers 11:10-17; Numbers 14:2, 11-23, 28-29, Complaints are okay, but enough is enough.

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Exodus 3:1-15, Drop what you’re doing. (8/20/08)

I believe more conversations between Moses and God are recorded in the Bible than between any other person and God.  If Abraham's talent was listening, Moses' talent was to stop what he was doing and take time to talk with God.  We often concentrate on the bush – it was burning, so who wouldn't go aside to see it?  Well, me.  I'm busy.  I have work to do.  I have my list.  I have my schedule.  I mean, I even have a list for my husband and son!  I don't have time for a burning bush.  Moses also had a job and a family and a schedule, but when God spoke to him, he dropped everything to be part of the conversation. 

Maybe I could do that.  I'll put it on my list. 

Today’s Prayer: Dear God, cure me of busy-ness so that I can be about your business.  Amen.

Exodus 4:1-18, Excuses probably won’t do you any good. (8/21/08)

Back in 1979, my pastor, the late Rev. Dr. Bob Templeton, started talking every Sunday about the Bethel study.  Every Sunday, he talked about the commitment and the time it would take for the first group of teacher trainees.  Every single Sunday, I turned to my friend Dwight in the choir and said, "I'm not going to do that."  I had lots of good reasons.  I had just gotten out of grad school, and I was tired of studying.  I had two tiny boys and a job, and I was just tired.  I sang in the choir, played in the bell choir, and was on the Stewardship Committee; I really didn't have the time for anything else.  Fortunately, God wasn't interested in my excuses.  After several months of this, I discovered myself talking to Bob and signing up for the course.  I find that when I'm making a lot of excuses, I'm deep into a conversation with God that I didn't even know was happening.

Today’s Prayer: Dear God, I know I make excuses.  Help me see them for what they are.  Help me use them to figure out what I should be doing.  Amen.

Exodus 6:1-13, 6:28-7:2, Keep going back for directions. (8/22/08)

How often have you started some project or other and then just kept struggling with it when it wasn't going right?  As we saw yesterday, Moses had doubts that anyone would listen to him.  It turned out that his doubts had a good foundation, and people didn't listen to him.  But his great talent was to take time out to talk to God.  He kept going back for instructions and advice.  This is what the business world calls "course correction."  It's easier to correct your course of action a little bit here and there early in the project than to bail it out of a disaster at the end.  Talk your life over with God frequently to get instructions and advice.  That way you can make little, painless corrections early and avoid the big, painful corrections later on.

Today’s Prayer: Dear God, guide me today in correcting the things that get in the way of doing your work. Amen.

Exodus 17:1-7, Ask for help. (8/25/08)

Have you ever done your best to help someone, only to end up as the object of anger and resentment?  As the wife of a retired pastor, I can assure you that this describes the daily life of church leaders.  Almost no matter what they do, somebody is going to be dissatisfied.  The best a church leader can do is to try to present Christian behavior and teaching and to hope that most of the congregation will model them most of the time. 

Moses had the same problem.  He gave up a lucrative and respected job as a shepherd in order to lead the children of Israel out of slavery and back to God.  Did they say, "Good job, Moses, and thanks!"?  No.  As hard as this is to believe, they said, "We were better off as slaves in Egypt, and by the way, we're about to die of thirst and it's all your fault."  Moses did what any sensible person would do:  he took the problem to God.  When you have a problem that you cannot solve on your own, ask for help.

Today’s Prayer: Dear God, Help my pastor to stay whole and sound.  Give my pastor strength to serve you and us.  Help my pastor grow in grace and wisdom in your service.  Help our staff and give them energy to do your work.  Help me to be a supporter, not a detractor.  Amen.

Exodus 32:1-14, Pray for others. (8/26/08)

Do you and your spouse, or any other relative, ever play the game "My Son Your Son"?  Here are the rules: Moses and God were good at this game.  When the children of Israel were behaving, they were "my people."  When they were misbehaving, they were "thy people."  When God was ready to give them up entirely because they were committing apostasy by worshipping other gods, Moses prayed earnestly for them.  Never give up on your children, your spouse, your fellow church members, your church leaders, your political leaders, your neighbors, or your enemies.  When they are behaving badly, and especially when they are worshipping other gods, pray earnestly for them.  You are mom.

Today’s Prayer: Dear God, please don't stop loving your people, even when that's what we deserve.  I especially pray for ... and for myself.  Soften our hearts so that we will turn back to you.  Amen.

Numbers 11:10-17; Numbers 14:2, 11-23, 28-29, Complaints are okay, but enough is enough. (8/27/08)

My father-in-law's favorite Bible verse was "God helps those who help themselves."  Actually, this well-known "verse" is not found anywhere in the Bible.  The whole point of the Bible is that God helps us because we can't help ourselves.  Nevertheless, when God is helping you, He expects you to be at least minimally cooperative.

Moses complained to God, but he had a legitimate beef.  God had appointed him to lead the people out of Egypt, and he was doing the best he could, but he was exhausted and without resources.  God decided that Moses had a point, and He appointed a bunch of helpers for him (11:16-17).  The children of Israel also complained to God, but eventually they no longer had good grounds for complaint.  God had taken them out of slavery, stayed with them day and night, fed them, clothed them, and gave them Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to lead them.  Far from being grateful, they whined that they were better off as slaves in Egypt.  After this went on for quite some time (14:11), God had had enough.  The people were convinced that they were going to die in the desert, and they wouldn't turn a hand to help support themselves, so fine, God said, they could die in the desert!  He would arrange it!  Moses, always ready to pray for the children of Israel, managed to talk God into letting them die of natural causes.

The point is this.  Complain to God; He can take it.  But when God hears your complaints and gives you a solution to the problem, it's time to shut up, get up, and head out of the desert.

Today’s Prayer: Dear God, I've got some problems.  I know you've got solutions.  Help me to recognize your solutions and use them in my life for your glory.  Amen.

More About Biblical Prayer

The Purpose of Prayer
Conversations with God – Abraham
Conversations with God – Moses
Conversations with God – David and Solomon
Adoration: Sing to the Lord a New Song
Liturgical Prayer
When God Speaks
God promises to answer all prayers…
… Except the prayers of the Wicked. But if the Wicked repent, God hears them, too.
Sometimes the answer is “No.”
The disciples talk about prayer.
How Not to Pray
How to Pray: Effectively
How to Pray – Privately
How to Pray – Corporately

Copyright 2008, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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