It’s a phrase we commonly associate with being robbed.
This posture–hands raised–was the position held by Moses throughout the battle between Israel and the Amalekites. My pastor taught out of Exodus 17 on Sunday and his words have stirred in me a most needful lesson.
After calling Joshua to lead the troops into battle, Moses climbed the hill and raised his staff in his hands overhead. As long as Moses held this position, Israel gained ground. When he grew tired and his hands fell, the Amalekites had the advantage on the battlefield. His actions are a poignant example of prayer, both literally and figuratively. With his hands raised heavenward, his prayer became the conduit for God’s power.
Each of us has situations in our lives that warrant perseverant prayer. Yet we, too, grow weary and may cease to pray. Or perhaps we begin to doubt whether God will act (at least in a way we recognize). Having a modern-day Aaron and Hur alongside can bolster our prayers, keeping our hands raised in expectant hope.
I needed these reminders. I am weary, perhaps jaded, in prayer of late. I’m thankful for my companions in faith who remind me of what God has done and can pray on my behalf when words fail me.
But these weren’t the lessons the Holy Spirit had for me to learn.
You see, I’m a “do-er.” I’m good in a crisis. My vision is clearer, the course of action seems more apparent. I shift into hyperdrive and begin to task my way through the problem… making changes to bring about resolution. I research. I make phone calls. I write lengthy emails.
And that’s why Moses’ actions, as a metaphor for prayer, arrested me. If I’m “doing” then I’m most likely not praying. Moses wasn’t scribbling notes on a scroll to be delivered to Joshua on the field. He wasn’t scratching battle plans in the dirt at the top of the hill. He was doing one, and only one, thing: praying.
If his hands had been occupied by any other task, they wouldn’t have been raised. And the tide of the battle would have turned. Likewise, my hands cannot be simultaneously raised in prayer over the problem and doing something about it. It’s not physically possible.
I can hear your objections already. (Or maybe they’re my own objections I hear.) Are we to do nothing but pray? Is taking action of any variety wrong? I can’t answer that for you, friends. What I know is this: the primacy of prayer cannot be overstated.
Though my natural instinct is to “do” something (or offer to “do” something for you), I want my hands to first be raised in prayer before I permit them to take any other task upon them.
I want to depend on His work, not mine. Will you join me?
For more thoughts on prayer, click here.