Stop Praying

“The Lord will fight for you! You need only be still” (Deuteronomy 14:14).

This. The iconic, rousing line from Moses. Delivered to the fearful Israelites shaking in their sandals, just seconds away from certain impending death.

Like Braveheart parading before the Scots anticipating the battle against King Edward I, Moses rallies the confidence of the Israelites who see this monstrous cloud of Egyptians swarming by the millions just over the horizon, galloping down upon them like birds of prey descending on a hoard of defenseless bunnies.



But did you ever notice the next verse?

This one doesn’t get nearly the airplay. This one makes us all a little uncomfortable. This one snatches from us the certainty the verse before it instilled.

It calls our bluffs, removes our cushions, and rests its chips squarely upon our –not God’s– shoulders.

Moses has thousands of eyeballs fearfully focused on him. He tells them their focus should be on God.

Then he turns to look at God, whose response is astounding:



“Why are you crying out to me?” (verse 15).

Wait, what?


They’re all looking at me God. So I told them to look at You.

We’re kinda relying on You here God.

That’s why I’m looking at You.



Why are you crying out to me?” (verse 15).

Okay, didn’t expect that.

The Israelites are all trembling in their flip flops. Kissing their loved ones goodbye. Saying their prayers. Making amends. Preparing for death.

Moses said we should be looking to You for our deliverance though. You are going to deliver us, aren’t You?



Notice here how God reorients them. Because through it, He reorients us.

He doesn’t tell them not to look to Him; He asks them why they are praying to Him. Why now?

Why are you praying right now?


Did you know that there are times when you don’t need to pray?

Did you know there are times when God says to all of us “Why are you crying out to me?


This isn’t a prayer moment.


How many of us hide behind our prayers, rather than obeying the instructions He’s given us… How many of us use our prayers as an excuse for inaction… How many of us stare at the sky when what we should be doing is what we’ve already been told…


God responds this way in the story because He had already given Moses their next steps—

Step out in faith.


Do something.

Yet they weren’t doing it. Moses instead was frozen and paralyzed with fear and a fixed gaze on Yahweh.

Moses, you don’t need to pray about this one. You just need to do.


I meet so many Christians who use their prayers as a copout.


“I’m praying about whether or not my wife and I should find a church.”

Really? Let me help you out – you should. You don’t need to pray about this one. He’s already given you your instructions.


“I’m praying about whether or not I should talk to this person about how they’ve offended me, or how their behavior has affected me.”

You don’t need to pray about this one. Stop praying about it, and pray for it. Pray for when you do it. Because God is clear about how we are to go to erring parties, how we are to keep our accounts empty and always work towards forgiveness and restoration.


“I’m praying about whether or not I should serve.”

This one’s my favorite, because it’s an excuse (like Moses) for laziness. Get up off your knees and serve. God isn’t going to give you an epiphany about this. He’s already been very clear. You should serve unless He tells you not to.



While Lifeway and Christian venders all put Exodus 14:14 on coffee mugs and t-shirts, I’d like to be the one guy who puts Exodus 14:15 on my merch:

Why are you crying out to me? MOVE!

As God told Joshua in the seventh chapter of his book, as Bono told the Church on U2’s Pop album:

“Please, please, get up off your knees.”


Stop hiding behind your prayers. Never let it be an excuse for inactivity. Stop using God as a copout, or blaming your laziness on the Holy Spirit.


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