This the journal entry from my quiet time with God earlier today. For me, what God said to me in His word today was powerful and important. It may be for you as well. But nothing can replace adopting the daily practice of quiet time with God for yourself. This message from a year ago will explain how I approach quiet time.
Look: “And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” (Exodus 15:24-25)
Three days after the Lord delivered the people of Israel at the Red Sea, throwing the Pharaoh’s chariots and horses who had been chasing them, into the sea, we come to this verse. The Israelites are beginning to wonder where their water is going to come from out in the wilderness.
The people have short memories. None of them stop to think, “The Lord Who controlled the wind and waves to save us can also provide us with the water we need.”
Instead, they panic.
Not only that, they seem to forget any connection they have with God, despite having sung God’s praises just three days earlier (Exodus 15:1-18). They grumble to the man they think is in charge, Moses.
But while the people grumbled, Moses prayed.
Moses “cried to the Lord.” On that, God created fresh water for the people.
God is good at making ways where there are no ways, at opening up new possibilities, of doing “a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19).
Doubters grumble about what can’t be done.
Believers submissively ask God to do what they know only He can do.
At their best, believers remember that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20) In fact, by living in the lifestyle described by Martin Luther of daily repentance and renewal, they seek to constantly remember God’s faithfulness. And in the sacrament of Holy Communion, they’s grateful to be re-membered to Jesus.
Listen: Of course, even the most fervent believers are sometimes doubters. That’s why I need to keep remembering God’s promises and God’s track record of kept promises.
Today, God extends His promises to all who believe in Jesus. Through Jesus and our faith in Him, we can know God as the One to Whom we can cry out like Moses did. Jesus says: “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:7)
Jesus says that I can trust God enough to stop grumbling and to start praying: “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)
The people of Israel were right in one sense. There was nothing they could do to get the water they needed. That was the reality. The problem was in their response to that reality: They grumbled instead of praying. Fortunately for them, Moses prayed for them.
When I think about the impossible things in my life, I can grumble, give up, become bitter.
Or I can pray to God in the name of Jesus, my God, Savior, and High Priest, Who died and rose for me.
When I pray like this, Jesus may help me get through the impossible; get around the impossible; give me the strength to endure; create a new path. I may die or I may live. I may suffer or get through without a hitch. I may be asked to sacrifice something of myself or I may be showered with miraculous provisions.
All of that is up to God as He works what’s best for my development as a child of God.
In any case, as I choose to pray--to submit, to surrender, to ask that God’s will be done, I learn the truth of Paul’s words: “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:8)
Respond: Lord, I need to pray and not grumble, to trust You to do the impossible rather than thinking about what I face that’s impossible.
I need to remember that if You will something, it is NOT impossible!
Give me boldness to trust in You with the things that seem impossible, Lord. Help me to remember Jesus’ words: “...with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
As I pray that, help me to not to fall into a “name it and claim it” heresy. You are not an ATM that dispenses goodies if I only believe it enough and say it enough. You are the sovereign God of all creation. As I pray to You, help me to genuinely surrender to Your will and Your will alone.
Prayer is, before it’s anything, submission to You.
Help me to seek your kingdom first and above all else (Matthew 6:33). Help me to alter my requests to You as Your Word speaks to me and as I listen for the voice of Your Holy Spirit.
Above all, Your will be done!
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
[I'm the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]