Utter Unselfishness in Prayer

Chapter 17

Theme: Utter Unselfishness in Prayer
Focus on: Moses
Reading Portion(s): Exodus 32 & Deuteronomy 9:7 to 29, Psalm 106:19 to 23.
– Important Background Information
– Helps you find strength in God
What this article teaches you
Prayer is not only for ourselves; it is for others too. Often our prayers center on ourselves and our needs. Sometimes it include our immediate family and friends. There is nothing wrong with all these. But it smells of selfishness. Such praying closes our eyes to the needs and concerns of others.

It is quite possible to be a man of prayer and be totally selfish. But God is pleased with those who are unselfish in prayer. If we can put our personal desires to the background and intercede with God to show mercy to others, then that prayer ranks high in God’s esteem. He would surely show mercy to others when we are unselfish in our prayers

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Moses went up Mount Sinai when God had called him. God gave him the laws that the Israelites had to observe and also the ten commandments. The ten commandments were inscribed on two tablets of stone by the finger of God.
Moses was with God for forty days and forty nights on top of the mountain.


Meanwhile the Israelites grew impatient. They gathered around Aaron and told him that they did not know what had happened to Moses. So they asked him to make gods that will go before them.
Aaron, instead of asking them to wait for God and Moses, gave in to their wicked desire and fashioned a golden calf out of their golden jewelry and told them that this was their god who brought them out of Egypt. He even built an altar in front of the calf and proclaimed that there will be a festival the next day.

While the festival and revelry and eating and drinking were taking place God asked Moses to go down. He told Moses that they had built a golden calf and have become corrupt. God became so angry with the people that He said that He wanted to destroy these stiff-necked people. He asked Moses to leave Him alone to do so. And He also promised to make Moses into a great nation instead.

As soon as Moses heard all this he sought God’s favor. He used three arguments to ask God not to destroy the Israelites. First of all Moses told God not to destroy His own people; His own inheritance, that He redeemed from Egypt with great power and a mighty hand. Secondly He tells God that if He destroyed these people the Egyptians will mock and say that it was because God was unable to bring them to the promised land that He destroyed them. Finally, He reminded God of His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and pleaded with God not to destroy His people because of His own promise.

God relented because of Moses’ prayer. We have to note two important things here. Firstly, God had asked Moses to leave Him alone. This was because God knew that Moses will definitely intercede for the Israelites. Had Moses not prayed for the people God would have definitely destroyed them and wiped them out off the face of the earth. Secondly, God had promised to make Moses into a great nation instead. But to our surprise we find that Moses did not even give a moments thought to this great promise. His entire mind was preoccupied with interceding for the Israelites. This was true unselfishness in prayer.

After seeking God’s favor Moses reached the Israelite camp. On seeing the golden calf and the revelry there he became so angry that he broke the stone tablets at the foot of the mountain. Then the Levites rallied to Moses and killed some three thousand people in the camp. The next day Moses told the people that they had committed a great sin. He further added that he was going up to the Lord to seek His forgiveness for their sin.

So Moses went up Mount Sinai again and for another forty days and forty nights he lay prostrate before the Lord. This was because God had said that He would destroy the Israelites. Moses told God that the Israelites had indeed committed a great sin. But He asked God to forgive their sin. Then he said something that was truly unselfish. He told God to blot out his name from the book God had written if He was not going to forgive their sin.

God had said that He would blot out the name of the Israelites from under heaven. Now Moses asked God to blot out his name if God was going to do so.

Can we pray like Moses? Can we pray with such unselfishness? What would have happened if Moses had not prayed on behalf of the Israelites? What would have happened if Moses had grabbed at God’s promise to make him into a more stronger and numerous nation? Would we dare to be bold to ask God to strike off our name from His book when praying for a rebellious person? Would we persevere for such a long time when interceding with God for others? These are some questions that we have to ask ourselves.

How often do we pray for others? How much time of our prayers are taken up by requests for our needs? Moses had an overwhelming concern in his heart for his fellow brothers and sisters. This concern was misguided and not under God’s control when he killed an Egyptian and buried him in the sand when he was in the palace of Pharaoh. Now instead of any dramatic action he had poured out his heart before God in utter unselfishness. May we strive to pray like this man.