Prayer Solves Problems

Alec Motyer

READ : Exodus 17:1-16

Moses cried out . . . Moses held up his hands. (Exodus 17:4, 11 NIV)

In Exodus 17 we see Moses praying powerfully and effectively to help Israel win its battles. His prayer is symbolized by his raised hands. The hand raised in prayer touches God’s very throne. Whether problems arise from hostile circumstances (vv. 1-7) or hostile people (vv. 8-13), prayer can make the difference. It is easy to turn to grumbling (v. 3); it is wise to bring your problems to the Lord (v. 4). Grumbling solves nothing; prayer changes things. Three factors lie behind the effectiveness of prayer.

First, the Lord is willing to look after even his grumbling people. Israel’s chronic complaining—at Marah (15:22) and over the manna (16:4)—indicated unbelief (v. 2), a serious sin. But when the people grumbled again at Rephidim because they had no water, the Lord simply told Moses what to do to provide it (v. 5).

Secondly, Israel’s prayer was effective because the Lord (as always) had the remedy prepared—another miracle of anticipatory providence: the water-giving rock (v. 6), set there since the foundation of the world!

And, thirdly (vv. 8-13), prayer changed things because it wasn’t all they did. The people were willing to fight the Lord’s battles as well as pray for the victory. First they prayed, then they marched!


“Lord, help me put on your full armor . . . and pray!”