Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on!” – Exodus 14:15 (New International Version)
How would you feel if I, a pastor, told you to stop praying?
Kind of confusing, huh? I mean, I’ve been writing to you for over six months now, and have suggested more than a few times that prayer is vital for the growth of your spiritual life.
Now I’m telling you to stop praying. What gives?
Well, not to be contradictory, but just as certain times call for and require our fervent prayers, believe it or not, there is also a time where God calls us to stop praying and start moving! This time comes when God has already given us instructions and directives to follow. It doesn’t matter how silly these instructions may seem, or how “outside of the box” God’s directions are. The fact that what He may be asking us to do seems impossible is not important. What is necessary is our obedience once we’ve clearly and accurately heard the voice of God.
Throughout the first 12 verses of Exodus 14, God is giving Moses and Israel specific directions that will lead them from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and set them on a course toward achieving the Promised Land of Canaan. In verses 13 and 14, Moses draws from what God deposited into his soul, and gave a rousing and encouraging admonition for the Israelites to proceed with confidence and courage — not needing to fight, but instead watching God win the battle of faith for them.
Excellent sermon, Moses! But look at what God said to him in Exodus verse 15: Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on!” (NIV)
In essence, God is telling Moses: Stop praying about something that I’ve already shown you! Stop using your prayers as a tool of procrastination! Stop asking me questions that you already have been given an answer to. It’s time for you to move on!” Somewhere between verses 14 and 15, Moses recanted on his recently displayed faith and began questioning the voice of the Lord. Somewhere between verses 14 and 15, Moses forgot to believe in that which he so powerfully preached.
The satanic strategy of bondage is to make us think that God could and would never tell us to move on from places of dryness, poverty and brokenness in our lives. The demonic device of bondage says: “You’ll always be stuck in this rut, so why try to change? This is as good as it gets. Every church, every job, every ministry, every undertaking has problems and issues, so what makes you think God is telling you to move on? Every man, every woman will mistreat you and will fail to love you as you deserve to be loved so why do you think you can do better than the broken mess of a relationship you’re already in?”
But it is in the liberating voice of the Lord where we can hear the clear and propelling command to move on! Solomon, the wise son of King David wrote that there is a time for EVERYTHING and everything on earth has its season (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). A time exists for us to mourn over that which has died. But also realize there’s also a time rejoice for what has been born. There is a time for us to be still and remain in a God-appointed situation. But don’t get so comfortable to where you feel like God could and would never reveal a time for you to move on.
So when is it okay to stop praying about something? When God has given you the answer. Isn’t it funny how when we should remain in prayer, we’re ready to jump up and move, and when we should be moving we want to stay still and “pray?” God is not the author of confusion. Many of us are faced with major decisions and we may already know what to do. We may have already been given the answer, but bondage has been a part of our personal culture for so long, and so many folks have told us over the years what we can’t do, that we struggle to recognize a fresh move of God taking place in our lives.
We’ve held on to the broken things, the dry things, and the old things in our lives long enough. You’ve done all you can do in the place where you are. You’ve prayed there, cried there, broken up fallow ground, set the stage for someone, somewhere or something else to come. The purpose for this particular season of your life has been achieved. If you remain, the former place of purpose can become the place of bondage. Don’t allow fear to force you to remain in bondage. The puzzle doesn’t have to be complete for you to recognize the image that it portrays. That desire on the inside pushing and prodding you into another realm may be the Spirit of God telling you that it’s time to stop praying about it, fasting about it and seeking an answer that you already have and move on!
Gabriel Stovall covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He is also the founder and pastor of NewLife Christian Church which meets Sundays at 10:30 a.m. at Forest Park Middle School’s cafeteria.