Somebody prayed for me

Somebody prayed for me

Prayer at altar

In reading the Exodus story, I'm always surprised that, though I've read and heard the story a number of times, I always find and learn something new. As I read Exodus 7-11 and 32-34, I'm struck by how Moses' leadership is defined, in part, by prayer – specifically, prayer for others, what the church has long called intercessory prayer. 

Moses prays for Pharaoh and Egypt, that the plagues would end. Moses also prays for the Israelites, that their sin would be forgiven. In both instances, Moses stands between the needs of others and the Lord who is "... merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness..." In fact, it seems that it is this quality of Moses' leadership, the willingness and ability to "stand in the gap" (see Ezekiel 22:30) on the behalf of others, that really sets him apart from the other authorities at work in the story (pharaoh, the Egyptians and Aaron). Moses' intercession to God on behalf of others is a model for the kind of covenantal relationship into which God is trying to call the Israelites....and us.

It reminds me of a song that I grew up singing in church:
Somebody prayed for me, had me on their mind, took the time and prayed for me.
I'm so glad they prayed! I'm so glad they prayed! I'm so glad they prayed for me.

When we pray for others, be it friend or foe or stranger, we become a part of God's work of prevenient grace in their lives – that is, God's presence and providence at work in and through them when they are unaware or even unwilling to recognize it. When we pray for others, we reveal to the world the true meaning of a God who is "merciful and gracious."

Yet, while I can readily give thanks for the many who have prayed for me, I am convicted when I think about the precious few for whom I have been willing to pray. To be sure, my failure is less about me being utterly unwilling to pray for my neighbor, but instead is tied to my sometimes unwillingness to truly perceive the connection between my freedom in Christ and Christ's mission to proclaim freedom to the whole world. In other words, I sometimes stop once I've received what I needed from the Lord, not realizing that the Lord then calls me to be an integral part of helping someone else receive what they need. So then, after giving thanks for those who have helped "pray me through," I then should turn and offer prayer for my brother or sister – and in so doing, lead them to freedom.

In Follow Me to Freedom, Shane Claiborne and John Perkins write:
[Shane] Leadership is about taking folks on a journey. It’s about traveling along a winding road rather than just arriving at some destination. Think about Moses and what it must have been like for him as he led the Jewish people out of Egypt. The actual escape didn’t take too long, but then they were in the desert for 40 years! Wandering. Eating manna. Complaining. Getting sidetracked with all those stinking idols. I wonder which was the most challenging part of leading for Moses…the moment of crisis…or the day-after-day plodding along with all those people in tow…or their issues and their bickering and their fragility?
[John] Moses listened to the people. There were times when they probably drove him crazy, but he listened. So go to the people; live among them. That’s the journey. The first step is to learn from the people…to love them and start with what they know. The best leader is the one who listens to the people and sticks with a task until it is done. (p. 201-202)

So I'm wondering: How is God calling you to “go to the people; live among them?” Whose voice have you been ignoring? How are you being called to pray for them? How are you being called to lead them to freedom?

1 comment (Add your own)

1. DeAndre's Mom wrote:
Amen!

Mon, February 10, 2014 @ 10:54 AM

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