Thursday, July 27, 2017

Do We Vent or Pray?

Exo 5:22  Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?
Exo 5:23  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all."
Exo 6:1  But the LORD said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land."

The above passage is an example of a poor prayer.  If we are truthful, all of us have prayed equally as badly when we think that we know better than God and care about people more than he does.  Yet Moses and no one else in the Bible is ever chided for coming to the Lord with their needs or questions, in fact, we are commanded to do so; “Pray without ceasing”.  As we see in the next verse, the Lord intends to correct Moses’s approach to his problems by trusting in God, not by accusing God of doing something evil.  But even when our faith and prayers are weak and misguided, prayer is necessary and good.  So Moses isn’t chided but neither does the Lord let his prayer go unchallenged.

The great heroes of the faith in the Bible always kept a line of communication open with God; they weren’t in the habit of going to some man to do their praying for them.  We are a kingdom of priests which expressly means that we are free from going through another man.  We can go to God through Christ.  Isn’t that better than having to go through a priest or even your pastor who can never care for you like Jesus and who have no power to help you anyway?  Isn’t it better to be able to pray at any time rather than hoping that I will remember to pray on your behalf?

Asking God why is not sinful providing it is asked honestly and faithfully looking to God for help.  Even weak prayers are not condemned but God uses them to communicate to us.  I think this brings in another good reason for us to have a healthy prayer life.  The world knows that suppressing things is not good; things need to be vented.  The problem is they don’t know how to vent properly.  One popular method of venting is to take your frustrations out on something, like punching a pillow or screaming at the top of your lungs.  If we stop and think about this for a moment we can soon see how foolish and unhelpful this really is.

First of all it isn’t helping the problem.  At best it releases some tension but only for a while because the problem is still there with all its anxiety.  It is also quite self-centered as it exposes someone who can’t handle things when they don’t go in a way that pleases them.  It is merely an adult throwing a socially acceptable temper tantrum.  It is what someone who doesn’t have God on their side does because they really have no recourse for help.  So they are saying that I can’t have my way and I am going to let everyone know that I am not happy.  Fine, but now what?  You haven’t fixed anything and you haven’t dealt with it in a way that will bring peace and certainly not bring honor to the Lord.

Yes, we were designed to vent our frustrations and needs and we can do so by talking things out.  We were made to find relief through prayer to the only One who can help us in a meaningful way and One who loves and cares for us better than anyone else. 

God answers Moses’s prayer by pointing to himself and his power and purpose.  Instead of yelling and throwing a hissy fit because we aren’t getting our way, we can hand things over to the Lord who has told us that everything has a purpose that will ultimately end up for our good.  If there is any piece of knowledge that is more helpful than that, then I would like to hear it.  Talking things out with the Father who has been brought near to us through Jesus’s work, is the only God-honoring effective way to “release tension”; to deal with problems and find peace and comfort in a world in which we “will have tribulation”.  God made us and knows what we need better than we do.  Useful, saving, true faith takes him at his word and rests in his providence. 

Do our prayers reflect faith or accusations like Moses’s did?  One will bring peace, the other will just bring more frustration.




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