I remember in the Brownies, playing Kim’s game. About 30 everyday objects were placed on a tray. You got one minute to memorise them before they were covered over, and you had to see how many you could recall. It wasn’t my greatest skill.
When I first started attending prayer meetings as an adult, I found they were playing the same game, only harder. A whole list of items were reeled off, of situations and people that needed prayer. Then we’d close our eyes and try and remember them all to pray for them. I called it Kim’s game prayer! I wasn’t very good at that either.
Reading Exodus 33:7-11, it wasn’t how Moses did prayer either.
Who did the talking? Verse 9 – ‘the Lord spoke with Moses.’ Verse 11 – ‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.’
And that was the end of the meeting, and Moses would return to the camp.
We think of prayer as us talking to God, but primarily, we need to do a lot more listening. What is on God’s heart? What does he want for this situation or that person? Admittedly, the Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to talk to God, and I’m sure God loves to hear us share our heart with him too, but ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done’ expresses clearly that it is God’s agenda we need to be searching for, and praying into being. How can we know that unless we listen first?
Meanwhile, in that Tent of Meeting, a young man lived permanently. Joshua was Moses’ right hand man. His job was presumably to guard it from wild beasts and watch out for enemy attack, since it was outside the camp. He must have observed closely all that went on between God and Moses. He must have seen that Moses did plenty of listening. How important that was for his future career! As soon as Moses died, he was called into the office of Leader. The opening words of the book of Joshua, were God giving him clear commands for the way forward.
He’d learnt that prayer is more about listening than speaking. So now he was able to hear God clearly, and trust his precise instructions. How would they have ever won those battles otherwise?
And that’s how we win our battles in life too.