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The Prayer That Moves God

Scripture: Exodus 32:1-14

Summary: The prayer that moves God is one that seeks to honour His Name, fulfils His promises and bless His people.


Can you move God? Can you move God to do something?

If your answer is no, then prayer makes no sense to you. It will not change a thing. It is pointless to pray.

Yet God expects man to pray. Jesus calls us to pray. The Bible says we do not have because we did not ask.

Even the Lord believes in prayer. God responds to prayer. We saw that when God responded to Abraham’s plea for
Sodom (Gen 18).

Now we are going to see it again in Exodus 32, when God responded to Moses’ prayer. [Let’s read Exo 32:1-14]

God responds to Moses’ prayer for the people. Moses did not force God into doing something God does not want. In
fact, his prayer realises God’s will.

• He echoes God’s heart. God is gracious and compassionate, slow to judge and abounding in love.

• How can we move God in our prayers? We see 3 qualities in Moses’ prayer.

(1) Prayer that SEEKS TO HONOUR GOD’S NAME Moves God

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.”

• Anything that shames His Name, tarnishes His image, will not get His attention.

The context of Moses’ prayer is the infamous incident with the golden calf.

• Four months after their exodus from Egypt, Moses had left the people and had gone up on the mountain to meet
alone with God.

• When he did not return, the people persuaded Aaron to make this golden calf and they worshipped this calf.

• It was not out of ignorance. God has just clearly commanded (Exo 20). It was a violation of the first 3 commandments –
no other gods, no grave images, don’t misuse my Name.

God informed Moses – up on the mountain, not knowing what was happening.

Exo 32:7-8 “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8They have been
quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They
have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of

Exo 32:10 - And the Lord says, “Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy
them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

Interesting thing is that God chose to share with Moses His thoughts. He could have just pronounce judgment.

• Why bother to tell Moses to leave Him alone? As if Moses was obstructing Him.

• Why didn’t He act on it? He’s God after all. What difference would it make whether or not Moses approved of this
God did the same thing with Abraham (Gen 18) when He shared about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham
pleaded for the city.

• You get this sense that, God is not quick to judge. But more importantly, God wants to commune with man. He wants
to hear man’s input.

• What do you think, Moses? This is what is happening. I want to destroy them and start afresh with you. You are their
leader, what do you think?

This is our God. Such interactions are pictures of PRAYER. That’s what prayer is all about, when God and man engage
into a dialogue.

• Prayer is not monologue; it is not one-way. If it is, we don’t need to talk.

• He is God. He decides and it’s final. Everything that comes from Him is a command. But that’s not a biblical picture of

• Abraham was able to move God. And now Moses too was able to move God to “change” His plan. (That’s how man
experiences it.)

Prayer moves God. Our prayer makes things happen. Prayer realises God’s will. It does not correct His will, it fulfils His

• Treasure every prayer moment you have. Every word counts. Every request matters. God is moved when we seek to
exalt His Name.

Moses’ prayer was admirable considering the fact that these people had not been very appreciative of him.

• If he had been thinking for himself, he might as well said, “Yes, that’s right. Destroy them and start afresh with me. You
can make me into a great nation.”

• If Moses had a desire for personal glory, that could happen. But he prayed instead on the basis of God’s reputation
with the Egyptians.

Exo 32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, `It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains
and to wipe them off the face of the earth'?

That was what moves him to pray. He was concerned for God’s Name.

• Jesus taught us to pray this way (Lord’s Prayer): “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matt 6:9).

• It’s the first line because that is our first concern.

• God is moved by the heart that genuinely seeks His glory.

(2) Prayer that SEEKS TO FULFIL GOD’S PROMISES Moves God

Exo 32:13 - Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: `I will make your
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants

PRAY THE PROMISES OF GOD. Moses held on to God’s promise. He pleaded on the basis of what
God has said He will do.

• That’s what gives us hope, and that’s what moves God – our faith in His promise.
• What pleases God is our belief in His promises, our trust in His Word. That moves God.

What if we do not know what God has promised, or there are some situations in life that God did
not say anything about? What if we do not know His will?

• We pray according to what we know, as revealed in His Word. Do not worry about things you
do not know.

• We pray with faith and with boldness that God’s will be done. That’s what Jesus taught us in
the Lord’s Prayer: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Moses laid hold of God’s promise and prayed.

• He himself did not live to see the fulfilment of the promise about the Israelites inheriting the
land of Canaan. But it really doesn’t matter.

• He prayed in faith and believe God will fulfil what He promised. He made a difference, a great
difference in the lives of these people.

(3) Prayer that SEEK TO BLESS GOD’S PEOPLE Moves God

Moses’ prayer was made in the light of all the complaints and criticisms that he had received
from the people.

• He was not praying for his good friends or people who have been supporting him.

• He prayed because he cares. He prayed because He loves the people. We know this because
he prayed later on in verse 32: “Please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the
book you have written.”

• Prayer motivated by compassion pleases God. It echoes God’s heart.

It is interesting to note that when Moses came down and saw the idolatry with his own eyes –
now he really know how serious that was - he exploded in anger.

• He smashed the tablets containing the Ten Commandments.

• He took the calf, burned it, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the
Israelites drink it.

• He confronted Aaron and called whoever was for the Lord to come stand by his side. The rest
who refused to repent were executed.

Moses returned to the Lord again in Exo 32:31-32 - “Oh, what a great sin these people have
committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin — but if
not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

• Exo 32:33-34 - the LORD replied, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.
Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However,
when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.’”

It was a great sin - Moses said twice, once to the people (v.30) and once before God (v.31) - but
God’s grace is greater.
• Moses did not brush it aside, he did ignore it or minimise it. He confronted it and confessed it
in prayer to God.

• He took a hard line against sin and gave room for repentance. He loves God and he loves the

• That’s the way to true blessings in life. Not to go soft on sin, but to stand firm and extend
God’s grace.

Moses was so burdened for these people that he made a theologically incorrect prayer – “blot
out my name from the book”.

• The Lord corrected him gently and affirmed him again of his role to lead the people to His
promised land.

• His prayer to bless the people affirmed God’s heart and will.

• In the book of Numbers we have an incident where Balaam was asked by the King of Moab
(Balak) to curse Israel, the Lord said, “You must not put a curse on those people, because they
are blessed.” (Num 22:12). Such prayer won’t work.

• God’s delight is to see His people blessed.

God is moved by our desire to honour His Name, lay hold of His promises, and His people

• Such prayers move God. Keep on praying, as many of you have been doing.

Let’s pray that God will continue to do His good work among us – a work that would be humanly
inexplicable. People sees it will know it comes from God.

• Pray that God’s Name be exalted in this place; that His will be done and all His people here
greatly blessed.