Summary: If you want your prayers to really make a difference, then remind God that His interests are at stake and ask God to remember His people, His purposes, and His promises.
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 delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (ESV)
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 before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD” (i.e. to YHWH). (ESV)
Aaron has the audacity to call this bull by God’s personal name, YHWH!
Exodus 32:6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. (ESV)
That is, to engage 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 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for YOUR people, whom YOU brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. (ESV)
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 turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ ” And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” (ESV)
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)