Thursday, January 13, 2005

One of Those Questions

Periodically, someone asks me a question that just stops me in my tracks. You know what I'm talking about -- one of those questions that's been banging around in your head for a while -- you may not have the exact words for it until all of a sudden -- BANG -- there it is! And you're not sure you want to answer it, because you know there will be ramifications.

I remember a while ago someone asked me this question: "John, what would you do if you really believed that God was with you? I mean really with you in a Romans 8 sort of way. What would you do?"

That question altered the course of my life.

Last night while I was teaching about the life of Moses, I asked one of those questions, and I wonder if this one is going to change my life (or yours) as well. There's a story in the Book of Exodus where God and Moses are talking on top of a mountain. The people below get tired of waiting around and start worshiping this idol that they make out of gold. It kind of looks like a baby cow.

God says to Moses, "Look at those people down there. I'm going to kill them."

But Moses begs him not to. And -- here's the weird part -- God doesn't do it. Moses actually talks God out of doing something. In other words, the conversations we have with God really matter. They actually accomplish something -- especially when we talk to God on behalf of other people (what is often called "intercessory prayer").

I'm not talking about Open Theism. At least I don't think that's what this is. I'm talking about whether or not our prayers can actually alter the course of history.

Now here's the question: "How would you pray if you really believed God would hear and respond? I mean, respond in the same way he responded to Moses."