Summary: When you haven't got a prayer, remind God that His interests are at stake: ask God to remember His people; ask God to remember His purpose; and ask God to remember His promise.
There was once a small town which had no liquor stores. Eventually, though, someone built a nightclub right on the main street through town. This so upset the members in one of the churches that they conducted several all-night prayer meetings. They asked the Lord to “burn down that den of iniquity.” A short time later, lightning struck the tavern, and it was completely destroyed by fire.
The owner, knowing how the church people had prayed, sued them for damages. His attorney claimed that their prayers had caused the loss. The congregation, on the other hand, hired a lawyer and fought the charges.
After much deliberation, the judged declared, “It is the opinion of this court that wherever the guilt may lie, the tavern owner is the one who really believes in prayer while the church members do not!” (M. R. DeHaan)
There are a whole lot of Christians like those church members. They don’t really believe in prayer. Oh, they pray, because somebody somewhere told them they ought to, but they don’t really expect their prayers to make much of a difference.
That was certainly not the experience of God’s people in the Bible. When they prayed, things happened. For example, when Moses prayed, the Bible says that God actually “changed His mind.”
Would you like to see how you could change the mind of God? Would you like to see how your prayers could really make a difference? Then I invite you to turn with me in your Bibles to Exodus 32, Exodus 32, where we see how Moses changed the mind of God. He was on Mount Sinai, receiving the Law from God Himself, when terrible things started happening down in the valley below.
Exodus 32:1-4 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (NIV)
That calf was actually a young bull in its first strength, in its day, a symbol of fertility and sexual prowess.
Exodus 32:5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord” (NIV) – i.e. to YHWH.
Aaron has the audacity to call this bull by God’s personal name, YHWH!
Exodus 32:6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry (NIV) – i.e., in sex play.
This was a drunken orgy in the name of worship. The people of God are involved in gross immorality. And as a result, they have invited the wrath of God. God’s anger is burning against their sin.
Exodus 32:7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. (NIV)
God is about to disown his own people. Notice, He says to Moses, they’re YOUR people. God doesn’t want them anymore.
Exodus 32:8-10 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” (NIV)
God wants to destroy them and start all over with Moses. Frankly, these people don’t have a prayer.
And perhaps, some of you find yourselves in a similar situation. Either because of your own doing or someone else’s, you find yourself in dire straits. Your situation is desperate, and you see no way out.
Somebody once said, “You know it’s going to bad day when: You see a “60 Minutes” news team in your office. You call Suicide Prevention and they put you on hold. You turn on the news and they’re showing emergency routes out of the city. Your twin sister forgets your birthday. Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway. Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat. Your income tax check bounces. You put both contact lenses in the same eye.” (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, 1988, p.18)