The Unfinished Prayer
- Dr Eliezer Gonzalez
- Old Testament
May 20, 2019 2016
One of the truly amazing episodes in the Bible happened at Mt Sinai. Because Moses had delayed his return from the mountain, and the Children of Israel made themselves a golden calf to worship.
The next day, Moses is pleading with the Lord to show mercy to his people. There is a great mystery in what he says, but it isn’t in his what he says. It’s in what he doesn’t say. Moses says to God,
But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written(Ex 32:32, NIV).
Do you see the dash? It indicates a long pause. The thought is unfinished. It was an unfinished prayer. This shows the deepest emotion at this point.
But now, please forgive their sin—
Just think for a moment about happened during that silence that the dash represents. Did Moses choke up for a moment? Did he shed tears of grief for his people who had rejected the Lord who had done so much for them?
Moses’ heart was breaking as suddenly the possibility that the Lord might not have been able to forgive their sin filled his mind. For a moment, as he contemplated that possibility, there were no words.
And when he spoke again, Moses expressed the only thing that he could offer:
but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.
Moses’ prayer was an unfinished prayer that was perfectly finished by love.
This self-sacrificing love is why God pointed to Moses as being “like” the coming Messiah (Deut 18:15). In Moses’ silence, we see a foreshadowing of the silence of God as he offered himself, through the Son to save his people.
Like Moses at Sinai, Jesus at Calvary also asked God to forgive his people. He said,
Father, forgiven them… (Luke 23:34).
The vastness of Christ’s love was enough for the salvation of the world.
Then for a moment, Christ was overwhelmed by the enormity of the sin that he bore. The despairing thought came into his mind that it would surely be too much for the Father to forgive the world, and that his sacrifice would be rejected. And so, he cried out in despair,
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?(Matt 27:46).
But, like Moses’ prayer in the desert, Christ’s prayer on the cross was also unfinished. Christ never answered the question in his prayer. Instead, like Moses, he did all that he could, and with a broken heart, he offered himself:
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit(Luke 23:46).
And the vastness of his love was enough for the salvation of the world.
I dare not ask you if you pray like Jesus. But at least, let me ask you, when you pray, do you pray like Moses? Or are your prayers all about you and your complaints and wants?
In your prayers, do you put others first? Even more than that, do your prayers truly come from a heart of sacrificial love?
– Eliezer Gonzalez