Praying with Boldness

Have you ever had one of those weeks that are just filled with sadness?  If your answer to that question is yes, then welcome to my week.  It has been one that has been filled with multiple funerals as well as counseling people through a variety of difficult situations.  Don’t get me wrong.  I fully understand that these situations go with the territory of being a pastor, so I am certainly not trying to acquire sympathy from anyone.  I am simply trying to be transparent in letting you know that when people hurt, I hurt.  And the fact of the matter is that I know that there are a lot of people that are hurting right now.  As I was processing my own feelings of heartache and sadness, I began to search scripture, and it wasn’t long before the Lord brought me to one of my favorite passages.  Exodus 33:12-23 is well known by many believers as the passage in which Moses asks the Lord to reveal His glory to him.  I had also read it countless times, but this time was different, as the Lord revealed to me some new truths that I think could be of benefit to us all as we deal with discouragement, despair, heartache, and just plain sadness. 


The thing that sticks out to me first and foremost in this passage is Moses’ boldness in his communication with God.  He is brutally honest and direct in his conversation with the Lord, to the point where some of us reading the exchange might cringe at the way Moses is speaking to God.  However, as I think more of it, it seems to me that we should be that bold in our prayer lives.  The entire reason that Moses could be so bold is that he walked intimately with God.  God even told him “I know you by name.”  That connotes an intimate relationship built on consistent faithfulness.  Perhaps if we were as consistent in our walk with God as Moses was, then the boldness would come easier.  God wants our honesty.  He wants our raw emotions.  He wants everything, both good and bad.  What we see in this passage is a frustrated Moses that is clearly expressing his frustration to God.  The frustration stems from the fact that Moses feels overwhelmed in the task of leading God’s chosen people, the Israelites, and he wants to know who will be going with him, because the task is too great for him to carry out by himself.  Earlier in chapter 33, God tells Moses that He will send an angel to go with him.  This is where verse 12 of the chapter picks up.  Moses is objecting to the presence of an angel.  He doesn’t want an angel.  He just wants the Lord.  This leads to three specific requests or prayers that Moses makes of God. 


  • “Teach me your ways” (v.13). Moses basically tells God, “If I have truly found favor with you, if you know me like you say you do, then teach me your ways so that I may know you.  You know me, but I don’t know you!”  Wow!  I’d say that was a pretty bold petition.  But isn’t that what we should be asking of the Lord every day, even through our tears?  “Lord, teach me something new today, something that helps me to know you better, more intimately”.  It seems to me that asking the Lord to teach us is a sure fire way to get through our sadness.  Moses ends this request by telling God “remember that this nation is your people”.  In other words, Moses knew very well what set the Israelites apart from any other people group on earth.  That was the fact that the Lord walked with the Israelites.  No other people could say that.  Moses was reminding God of the fact that he still desperately needed His presence.  We see in verse 14 that God grants Moses’ request in telling Him that His presence would go with him and would give him rest.  A brief study in Hebrew culture will tell you that at that time, the Lord’s presence was manifested in the Ark of the Covenant by sitting between the two cherubim that were on the lid of the ark.  In other words, the Lord telling Moses that His presence would go with him was the equivalent of His saying “the ark of the covenant will go with you, since my presence is manifested through that object.”  This leads to Moses’ second prayer.
  • “Give me your presence” (v.16). Moses asks the Lord, “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and your people unless you go with us?”  In other words, Moses is telling God “No!  I don’t want the angel.  I don’t want the ark.  I just want you!”  In the midst of our sadness, what we really need more than anything else is the Lord’s presence.  That is what will truly give us comfort and peace.  It doesn’t mean that the pain and heartache goes away.  What it does mean is that we have someone to share it with.  We will find true rest in the presence of the Great Comforter.  We see in verse 17, that God continues to grant Moses’ requests, telling him “I will do this very thing you asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”  When you have the intimate relationship with God that Moses had with Him, you will find yourself praying with boldness and passion, and don’t be surprised if the Lord answers you.  God’s affirmative answer to this request led to Moses’ third and final and without a doubt boldest prayer.
  • “Show me your glory” (v.18). Moses just decides to go for it in his third prayer.  He desires to see the Lord in all His fullness.  He doesn’t want the Lord to hold anything back.  Now you will remember that the Lord had already shown His glory to Moses and the Israelites on a number of occasions.  He had revealed His glory in the cloud of fire and even on Mount Sinai.  So why does Moses request it again?  Because during the previous times, God had revealed His glory corporately.  Now Moses wants it on an individual basis.  He wants it personally.  The Lord tells Moses that “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live”.  To see the Lord’s glory is the equivalent of looking upon His face.  When you look upon someone’s face, you can see almost everything about a person.  You can see their happiness, their sadness, their anger.  Why?  Because the face holds the feelings of the heart.  If the Lord allowed Moses to see Him in all of His glory, the last vestige of mystery would be lifted.  The veil would be pulled back.  The Lord knew that Moses could not handle that, but He eventually compromises and tells Moses that He will permit him to see His back as He passes by.  In other words, He gives Moses a small glimpse of who He really is, but at the end of the day God is a God of the beyond.    It is a good reminder for us at well.  God is a God of the beyond, and as such, we will never know all there is to know about Him this side of Heaven.  But it still seems to me that the best remedy for a broken heart is a new vision for the glory of God.


So there you have the three bold prayers of Moses.  I think we can take these three prayers of boldness and apply them to our lives each and every day, but particularly in times of heartbreak and sadness.  Let me encourage you in your prayer life with the Lord to communicate with Him boldly.  Do not be afraid to ask Him to teach you His ways, to give you His presence, and to show you His glory.  As far as I’m concerned, that is a better solution for what ails us than any medicine money can buy.


I love you,