house on black mountain covered by snow

Underneath Prayerlessness (Numbers 20)

I’ve never forgotten what Darrin Patrick said about prayer, in a talk he gave. Essentially, he said: 

When you are having trouble praying, when you go silent on God, look for disappointment with God as the reason. 

There are of course other reasons for prayerlessness: 

          – A lack of sleep. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves and those around us, is to simply get a good night’s sleep.
          – A failure to plan to pray. In this generation, the calendar is inviolate. If it goes on the calendar, it shall be so. We would benefit from scheduling when we pray, as we do other important appointments with people. 
          – A forgetfulness of God’s promises for prayer. God makes great promises to us for our prayers. We lose motivation when we lose sight of them. 

These are all common reasons for prayerlessness, that I’m sure you can identify with. I can. But “disappointment with God” – that’s always stuck with me. We all live with silent expectations, of life, of God, of others. Sometimes we don’t even know we have them. And when they get disappointed, they can affect us deeply. 

What to do?

It’s no coincidence that the three most humble men – Moses, David and Paul – were all strikingly verbose with God. They basically said whatever they wanted to God Almighty. Pride goes silent on God, but humility talks to Him like a sausage, spitting out on the hot skillet of life. 

Thus Numbers 20 is so odd. Not Moses’ disobedience – that’s understandable. None of us would have done better, under the circumstances. Moses is older; his sister has just died; and the people are complaining – again. So he buckles, and fails. His disobedience is not the odd thing. 

It’s that Moses doesn’t say anything to God. He speaks bitterly to the people. But bitterness always seems to have a vertical element, too. He’s gone silent on God, out of disappointment with God. 

So again, what to do?

Obviously, keep talking with God. If you are struggling right now, with depression, disappointments, etc., more than others know, let’s talk. Let’s make our own Psalm. Let’s put words to what’s going on, and let’s speak them to the God Who sees, hears and knows. And acts:

 Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; 

 pour out your heart before him; 

 God is a refuge for us. Selah

That “Selah” tells us, after we’ve poured out our hearts, to then reflect on Who we’ve poured out our hearts to. The fight against bitterness is the fight to see the God Who’s there. That He is a good and satisfying Refuge. Despite our bitterness, He still pours out water for us from the Rock. And that Rock is Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). 

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