What would you do if God told you, “Leave me alone!”? For most of us, the answer is simple: we’d leave Him alone. As strange as it may seem, Exodus 32:1–14 reports a time when God told Moses to leave Him alone, but Moses didn’t. And the Scriptures present Moses’ response to God as an exemplary prayer for us to follow.
You know the story. When Moses was on the heights of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, the people of Israel began to worship a golden calf. God said to Moses: “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. . . . Therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them” (vv. 7, 10a). But rather than leaving God alone, “Moses implored the Lord his God” to have mercy on Israel (v. 11).
Whose People Were They?
Did you notice how God identified Israel at this time? God said, “your [Moses’] people, whom you [Moses] brought up out of the land of Egypt” (v. 7). But Moses responded by praying, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your [the Lord’s] people, whom you [the Lord] have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?” (v. 11). As far as Moses was concerned, he had not brought Israel out of Egypt; God had brought them out of Egypt. Moses called Israel “your people” again in verse 12. And the story ends in verse 14 with the note that “the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people” (v. 14). Moses was convinced that the Israelites were God’s highly favored people and he said so. Apparently, God agreed and showed mercy.
Prayers for God’s People
Many prayers in Scripture reflect a similar point of view. When the faithful offered requests to God, they often appealed for God to consider the love He has for His people. And it isn’t difficult to understand why. God has special affection for those whom He has called to Himself in Christ. So, when we pray, we have good reason to call out for God’s blessings and to support our requests because God loves us so much.
Ask yourself this question: Would you ever want God to do something that does not show His love for His people? Of course not. We hope that He will display His special affection for us. In fact, we can be confident that in one way or another, God will always show His love for us. So, the next time you seek God’s mercy for yourself or a fellow believer, you have a great privilege. You can appeal to the Lord as Moses did by telling Him how answering your prayer will display His love in Christ. “Lord,” we may pray, “grant our request because it will show that You love us in so many ways.” God was pleased when Moses prayed this way, and He will be pleased when we pray this way as well.