Stop Praying

Stop Praying

The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” Exodus 14:15-16

When faced with life challenges, I’ve often just sat, praying for God to miraculously remove those challenges. God, take this away. Rescue me. In my hunger for unhealthy food, I’ve not asked God for wisdom and strength to make healthy choices. Instead, I’ve asked God to simply suppress my appetite. When struggling with a self-destructive desire for drugs, I didn’t ask God if I should go to treatment. Rather, I simply prayed for God to take away my cravings. When anxious, I haven’t asked God how I should respond to my anxiety. Instead, I just sat, did nothing, and expected him to remove the angst.

My version of faith and prayer has meant that I take zero responsibility. But when God didn’t make me hate donuts or drugs, and when he didn’t just magically take away my anxiety, I realized something was amiss. Did God abandon me? Or was I doing it wrong? When faced with the possibility of God failing or me failing, it’s safe to assume I’m the problem. So, I had to figure out what God was trying to teach me. Through my addiction, I came to understand that faith and prayer aren’t excuses to do nothing. Rather, faith means keeping my eyes on God, while making me feet follow. Instead of begging God to remove a trial, I must first go to God, asking how I should respond. God uses my trials to teach me faith and obedience.

This is the lesson of today’s passage. In the story, as the Israelites found themselves trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, they cowered in fear, crying out to God. We’re going to die here! To this, God said, Why are you wailing? Stop whining. Get up. Get moving. Follow me and I’ll lead you to salvation (my paraphrase).

Prayer doesn’t mean doing nothing. Faith isn’t an exercise in laziness. If I’m using prayer to shield myself from sacrificial obedience, then I’m doing it wrong. In the tough times, I must go to God, asking him what I should do. Faith means looking to God, following him with my actions. To my lazy do-nothing prayer, asking God to remove the struggle, God often says, Stop whining. Get up. Get moving. Follow me and I’ll lead you to salvation. I’m not saying I shouldn’t pray. I’m simply saying that I should never use prayer as an excuse for disobedience.

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