Updated: May 19
This is day 7 of our 52 Days of Prayers. We have been been going for a whole week.
How has it been for you? I would love to know. Please drop me a message in the comments below.
Today’s reading is in Deuteronomy 9 verses 25-29. And to understand this prayer we need to recap some of the prayers that we have read so far.
First we read about Abraham who talked to God on behalf of the people of Sodom and we learned that we too can and should speak to God on behalf of the people of our towns or cities.
Then we we read about Abraham’s grandson Jacob who had that dream about a stairway and God made him a promise. Can you remember what that promise was? It was that where Jacob was laying, that would be the place where his descendants would live in the future. It was an unconditional promise that God made to Jacob.
Jacob’s descendants multiplied to become the nation of Israel and were eventually enslaved in Egypt. God, through Moses sets them free, led them through the Red Sea and that’s where we read the next couple of prayers. Almost as soon as the Israelites miraculously escape Egypt they begin to doubt God and doubt Moses.
Moses goes off, up Mount Sinai to meet with God and get instructions for the next part of his mission, but he stays away for so long that the people of Israel sin really badly and Moses has to intercede for them, petition God on their behalf. They had made a calf out of gold and began to worship that instead of God!
Then, as we heard yesterday they all start complaining about not having enough food or meat and it all gets really messy again.
After that Moses sends 12 men into the land of Canaan to spy it out. The place where Jacob had his dream was in Canaan, which is modern day Israel. these men come back, not only with tales of fertile land flowing with milk and honey but also of giants and fortified cities. There are only 2 men who are not scared by this. One of them is Joshua who we will read about tomorrow.
Everyone is terrified and the people of Israel rebel. They don’t consider that God has already parted the Red Sea, provided manna, produced water out of a rock and miraculously provided more meat than they could eat. And if he has done that, surely he would help them take down giants and fortified cities. God is cross with them and condemns them to live in the desert for 40 years.
In today’s prayer we catch up with Moses, 40 years on. He is probably standing in the country that is modern day Jordan, overlooking the River Jordan and the land of Canaan or Israel beyond. He is reflecting back on the journey that Israel has been on and in these few verses recalling the 40 days of prayer that happened after the Israelites made that golden calf.
What did I like about this Bible prayer?
Moses is recalling a time that he prayed for 40 day and 40 nights. I said yesterday that numbers in the Bible are often significant and 40 is a number that is often used to explain a time of trial or testing. In the original story in Exodus 32 and 33 this extended prayer time is not mentioned but it must have been a difficult time for Moses. And I think that prayer can be hard work sometimes particularly when we are passionate about something. But I like that Moses was prepared to pray for such an extended time.
Like Abraham bargained with God for the people of Sodom, Moses pleads with God on behalf of the people of Israel. I like that he puts up a good argument or defence, reminding God about ancestors like Joseph, Jacob and Abraham who were devoted to God and asking him not to look upon the current people’s sin.
Moses’ argument highlights two things that the Egyptians could potentially say about God if he destroyed the people of Israel. Firstly they might say that he was not able to save the Israelites, that God isn’t big enough or strong enough to save a small nomadic nation. And secondly they say that God is now the enemy of the Israelites, that God has switched sides and not kept his promise to lead them into Canaan. Both things are equally unacceptable. I don’t know if these arguments actually changed God’s mind. I’m sure God is big enough to overcome this type of talk, but I think God looked into his friend’s heart, saw genuine regret and relented.
What didn’t I like about this Bible prayer?
Moses had listed many of the times that the Israelites had sinned and fallen away from God during their time in the dessert. It is harsh to have to listen to all the times you have got it wrong.
I pray I never have to go through that. He was reminding the Israelites that they were undeserving but God was fulfilling his promises anyway. God fulfilled his promises because he is gracious not because the Israelites had earned it, not because they were good enough. Gracious being ‘giving the people something good, that they don’t deserve’
What does this tell me about God?
Well, I think I have just said it. That God is faithful and gracious. He fulfils his promises because of who He is, not because of who we are. We don’t deserve anything God has given us. We don’t deserve the love that he has for us but he gives it freely and gladly all the same.
Wow! What a good and loving God we have!
What does this tell me about me?
It reminds me that I am undeserving and should come to God recognising that this freedom I have to pray and talk with him is because of Him and not because of me. It should cause my prayers to begin with worship.
I think sometimes it is useful to look back over my life to see what God has done for me. This is where keeping a diary or journal comes in as a handy reminder.
What do I need to go and do about it?
Tonight I think I am going to spend some time in worship, reflecting on who God is and what he has done for me. And as part of that, I think I will get out some of my diaries or journals and allow some of the notes I have made over my many years to prompt my prayers.
Let me know what you plan to do in the comments.
Despite what I say in the video, tomorrow is a group study day. The day after tomorrow we will be considering a prayer of Joshua that caused the sun to stand still. Is it fact or poetry? You can decide!