Deuteronomy 10:1-11 (Part 1) – Let Us Pray…Oh, Bright Shiny Object…Where Was I Lord?

Posted: January 16, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 10:1-11 (Part 1 of 2)

Tablets Like the First One

How much do you or I really pray? We all say that we pray. That we all spend time alone with the Lord, but how often do we really do it? Oswald Chambers, the author of wildly famous book, My Utmost for His Highest, once said, “Prayer doesn’t prepare us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work.” Prayer is the central core of who we are as Christians. Then, why do most of us, myself included, find it so hard to do. Prayer is so important that it is mentioned at least 250 times in Scripture. Seems pretty important if, in His Word to us, that He inspired biblical authors to mention it that many times.

 

I know that I am horrible at setting aside time to be alone with the Lord and just straight up pray. I pray at meal time. I pray in public when I am in charge of a meeting. I pray in public when others request me to do so. Those are the easy times that I can count that I specifically pray. Those times when I close my eyes, bow my head, and speak words to God for the benefit of myself and the group that I am with. Where I fail miserably is my personal alone time with the Lord. My fear is that I am not alone in this condition. But I will not write about you. I will write about myself and maybe you can take something away from that.

 

When I read about Moses going up to the top of Mount Sinai and communing with the Lord for forty straight days, not once but twice, I stand amazed. When I pray alone, or what I call prayer alone, I can barely keep focus for 4 minutes much less 40 days on two different occasions. It’s not that I do not want to pray to the Lord. I just don’t know what causes me to be such a complete and utter failure at prayer. When I pray, I am so easily distracted. I claim that I do not have time for all-out, full-on prayer. I write my daily blog 95% of the mornings of the year which occupies at least an hour and half each morning so there’s that. I have a secular job that is very demanding (at least 50 hours most weeks, sometimes 60). I have my part-time job at my church as the Director of Finance and Administration that takes up 8 hours per week in the office and probably another 5-6 hours per week outside the office (and I feel that I need to dedicate more time to it but it’s time that’s just not there). Add to that I have our small group meeting on Monday nights. Because of the two jobs, I work late on Tuesday and Thursday nights to be able to work in my 8 hours at my church plus work my full slate of time at my secular job. Then, on Friday nights, I just want to rest. Saturdays are for getting things done that I don’t have time for during the week and for college football during from September – early January. Sundays are jam-packed with church activities, lunch with people that we are intentionally trying to develop relationships with, and there’s small group on Sunday night with the group that we do not lead but just participate in. In between all that, I simply want to spent some time with my wife, whether it’s just being in the same room with her at the same time, or its talking about something serious, eating a meal together, or just hanging out and being silly. Where’s my moment to have all-out, full-on prayer.

 

Then, there’s that old saying that we prioritize our time by what we think is important. Show me your checkbook and I’ll show you your priorities. We make time for what we consider important. Other sayings such as these are ones that indicate that if something is important to us, we will figure it out. We will find the time. We, as Christians, kind of snicker at other religions who have robotic observance of rituals such as daily prayers where their religion’s catchphrases are repeated in robotic-like manner. We say that in Christianity, we are taught that prayer and anything about the Christian life should not be done in a robotic manner and that it should come from the heart and not from some observance of or in slavery to a specified schedule. And, yes, that is right. God wants our heart not our robotic observance of rituals where we are checking off boxes on our religious to-do list. We should be free to praise the Lord and pray to Him whenever the Spirit moves us to do so. However, like children left alone at home without their parents soon forget the discipline and rules of their parents, we may abuse our freedom to do pray whenever we want, by not doing it at all.

 

I am poor at using my freedom in Christ when it comes to prayer. When I try to pray, I get easily distracted. For example, my prayers may start off with, “Dear Lord, please allow me to hear your voice so that I can do your will. I have a situation where a need your guidance, Father. I need your guidance with….man, that was a great game last night for the Tigers….what to do when….did I turn the coffee pot off before I left the house…oh yeah…back to what I was praying about Lord, sorry…I need your help in discerning what the best course of action in….I can’t afford to forget to get that reconciliation done today before I leave work….” And then by the third thought interruption or so, I have given up on the prayer. Are you like that? And that’s when I have concentrated on having prayer time!

 

Most days, I have running conversations with the Lord as the day goes by. Little thoughts here and there. A sentence said here and there. And I think that this part is a necessary part of the Christian life is to have that running conversation with the Lord during the day. We must make Him a part of everything we do each day. So, that’s good, yes, but the specified, all-out, eyes-closed, on-my-knees, no outside input but God prayer time is where I struggle.

 

That’s what I thought about this morning as I read through today’s passage, Deuteronomy 10:1-11, for the first time. I thought about Moses being on the mountain in prayer and communion with the presence of God for 40 straight days. Forty straight days not once but twice. Forty straight days of nothing but prayer and communion with God. Wow! Let’s read through the passage and pick up on that fact:

 

10 At that time the Lord said to me, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain. Also make a wooden ark.[a] 2 I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Then you are to put them in the ark.”

 

3 So I made the ark out of acacia wood and chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I went up on the mountain with the two tablets in my hands. 4 The Lord wrote on these tablets what he had written before, the Ten Commandments he had proclaimed to you on the mountain, out of the fire, on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me. 5 Then I came back down the mountain and put the tablets in the ark I had made, as the Lord commanded me, and they are there now.

 

6 (The Israelites traveled from the wells of Bene Jaakan to Moserah. There Aaron died and was buried, and Eleazar his son succeeded him as priest. 7 From there they traveled to Gudgodah and on to Jotbathah, a land with streams of water. 8 At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister and to pronounce blessings in his name, as they still do today. 9 That is why the Levites have no share or inheritance among their fellow Israelites; the Lord is their inheritance, as the Lord your God told them.)

 

10 Now I had stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights, as I did the first time, and the Lord listened to me at this time also. It was not his will to destroy you. 11 “Go,” the Lord said to me, “and lead the people on their way, so that they may enter and possess the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”

Reading about Moses praying and communing with the Lord for 40 days on two different occasions just struck a chord with me this morning about how my prayer life, not my public prayer life but my private, intimate times with the Lord, is lacking.

 

Why is prayer, daily prayer time, so important? First, daily prayer allows to develop intimacy with the Lord. How did we develop our relationships with our spouses? We invested intentional time in that relationship. We got to know them by spending time with them. Why would we not want to do that with our Creator, the Creator of the Universe, the Creator of all things. He wants us to share the mundane with Him. He wants us to discuss things with Him that we think are unimportant to Him. He’s our Abba Daddy. He cares about it all. He wants us to take time to sit down and talk about it all with Him. It’s relationship building to sit down and pray to the Lord daily.

 

Second, prayer time establishes the right relationship between us in Him. Through prayer we realize that we are not His equal like we like to think that we are. Through prayer, we begin to learn that He is the Sovereign King of the All Things. It is a humbling experience to set aside time. To bow our head. To get on our knees. To focus not on us  but on the Sovereign God.

 

Third, it is a time that we have a platform to really look at what we have done. We sometimes avoid prayer when we have ongoing sins that we are not ready to come clean about. When we have prayer time with the Lord, you gotta have something to talk about. You gotta examine where your life is coming up short. You gotta examine. You gotta listen. When we take the time to set aside alone time with the Lord, we will hear. He will convict us. We let all the white noise of life help us ignore our sins. Prayer time, it’s just you and God. You and Him. No distractions. No shuck and jive. No dancing around. No ignoring the elephant in the room.

 

Fourth, prayer is simply and if nothing else an act of obedience to the Lord. He has made it 250 times important in Scripture. We must trust Him that prayer time is important. He says it is. We must do it. We must seek to obey Him. He has nothing but our best interest at heart in asking us to obey His Word. We must seek to have the discipline to give Him this obedience.

 

They say that if you do something for 21 days in a row it will become a habit (you know how smart “they” are). They in this case, are many, many proven experiments by behavioral scientists. Let us apply this principle to prayer. It may be awkward. It may seem weird at first. It may just be five minutes of focused time that may be 4.5 minutes of silence at first. Commit to it. What may start as 5 minutes becomes 10, 10 becomes 15, 15 becomes 20, 20 becomes 30. I need to start it. Will you do it with me?

 

Maybe one day we will both be like Moses who can back to back go to the mountaintop for 40 days and pray in the presence of the Lord and come away thinking that it was not enough time. You see what prayer did for Moses. He is one of God’s greatest leaders outside of Jesus. He spent time with the Lord. A LOT! Let us strive to be like Moses where private time focused solely on prayer is just part of our DNA.

 

Amen and Amen.

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