I’ve been thinking about how small I’ve been praying lately. Do you ever think about such things? Have you ever wanted to know what the Israelites were praying for in those final moments as the powerful Egyptian army pursued them up against the shores of the Red Sea.?Here’s a few of my best guesses –
From Bob “God, please help us get out of this mess. We don’t deserve this.”
From Janet “Dear Father in Heaven, please somehow make them give up this pursuit and leave us alone once and for all. Why are they still after us?”
From Jack “Okay. It looks like we’re going to have to fight. Please help us to beat them once and for all and give us resolve to be stand up to them.”
From Amanda “Lord, this is a nightmare and I’m scared! Please help us asap! Where are you?”
From Charles “Why does this stuff keep happening to us? Why did you ever let them send us away? So we could die out here in the desert?”
From Julie “God, let it be quick and painless. Help some of us to escape!”
And finally from Moses “Lord. The Red Sea stands before me. Help me to raise my staff and part the sea. Let us pass safely through, and then drop the walls of water on our enemy and destroy the ones who seek to kill your people!”
Pause. Really? My money is on Moses prayer sounding more like this – “God. This is all still about that Egyptian I once killed, isn’t it? God, please punish only me, and not my friends.”
It’s funny, but when I pray I ask for things that probably are quite weird to God. For instance, if I was Jonah, I’d ask for a painless death in the belly of the big fish. Or if I was Daniel I’d pray for an escape clause to get me out of being sent to the lion’s den. And if I was the disciples, I’d probably beg God for the boat to get to shore, rather than patiently ask for Jesus to raise his hand and stop the storm. I guess you could say I want what seems best to me, even though my perspective is so very limited.
Maybe today you and I could begin to stretch out these prayers a little bit? Maybe instead of praying for God to give us courage, we could also ask him to completely remove fear from our lives once and for all. Maybe instead of asking God to change the toxic narrative that seems to erupt in our culture, we could ask God for the name of Jesus to be worshipped all across America. We could be at the beginnings of the greatest revival in the history of America, and not have a clue that all of this stuff is what had to take place to get us here. Imagine if our nation found all of their peace, love, and joy in Jesus? What kind of a culture would we become?
I’m quite sure the Israelites didn’t understand why Pharaoh hardened his heart and relentlessly pursued them. You and I have the advantage, however, of knowing the end of their story, and we get to cling to the powerful promises of God to deliver us and bring us hope. We get to live out our lives knowing he always has good plans for us no matter what army is chasing us down. And so, when the waters rise on both sides and we discover the clear path to freedom and peace, we know why and we catch another glimpse of why we should put all of our hope in Jesus.