by Kathy Lay
This Week’s Verse: 2 Chronicles 6:40, "Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”(NIV)
Now typically, I like frogs. They're kind of cute, they eat insect pests, and my kids love to play with them. But imagine being completely overrun with them. Exodus 8 describes the plague of frogs as being so thick that they were even invading beds, ovens, and kneading bowls. It'd be kind of hard to sleep with those slimy, ribbitting things trying to slip into your PJ's for warmth. It would also be a bit disconcerting to bite into your bread and sense something unusually chewy, only to look down and see half a frog oozing out at you. And then there's what they leave behind. Everywhere.
So Pharaoh--fed up with all this--summons Moses and Aaron to pray to their God to remove the frogs. Moses challenges Pharaoh to determine the time the prayer should take place. (Now here's the part that makes my jaw drop...)
Pharaoh responds, "Do it tomorrow."
(Okay, re-read that first part of v. 10. because I KNOW he didn't just say "tomorrow.")
"Do it tomorrow," Pharaoh said.
What?! Why on earth would he allow the frogs to remain one more day if he didn't have to?! Unless it was exactly 11:59:59 p.m. (or whatever the ancient Egyptian equivalent would be), then I simply do not understand how Pharaoh could respond this way in the midst of such nastiness. Why did he not burst out desperately, "Today! Do it right now to end this!"
But then as God so often does, He transported me from His Word to my life...or more accurately, His Word IN my life: "Kathy, why do you judge Pharaoh? You do this all the time. When you're worrying about a decision to make, you tell yourself that you need to pray about it—and sometimes you do—but sometimes you forget entirely. Or someone who is struggling will confide in you and you tell her “I'll pray for you,” implying that you'll do it later. Why not do it right then? By waiting, you're postponing resolution or healing, just like Pharaoh did. So quit judging."
Wow. Lesson noted, Lord. Thanks.
And you know what? A few plagues later when the flies swarmed in, Pharaoh gave Moses permission to take the Israelites on a three-day trip to the wilderness to offer sacrifices. But in verse 28 he doesn’t say, “Pray for me in a few days while you’re out there.” No, this time he asks for immediate prayer.
Even though he still struggled with a hard heart in later chapters, Pharaoh was beginning to learn his lesson: why wait?
Father, I am not so different from Pharaoh with my hard heart and my delayed or often omitted prayer. Help me finally come to realize the urgency in prayer to the point that it becomes second nature to do it at the exact moment a need presents itself.
Have you ever wondered if a situation could have been averted had you prayed about it sooner? I know I have. I Thess. 5:17 tells us to pray continually, which lends itself beautifully to timely, urgent prayer. Try to develop the habit of turning thoughts into prayers. It takes discipline, but it will enable you to stay in constant contact with The One who has it all under control.
Exodus 8:28, “'All right, go ahead,’ Pharaoh replied. ‘I will let you go into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God. But don’t go too far away. Now hurry and pray for me.’”(NLT—emphasis mine)
Psalm 102:1, “God, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries. Don't turn your back on me just when I need you so desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry—this can't wait!”(MSG)
Psalm 86:6, “Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry.”(NLT)