READ: Judges 13:1-20
And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so theLord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.
2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. 3 And the angel of the Lordappeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, 5 for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, 7 but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”
8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.” 9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field. But Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.” 11 And Manoah arose and went after his wife and came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to this woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 And Manoah said, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?” 13 And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. 14 She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.”
15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” 16 And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) 17 And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” 18 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeingit is wonderful?” 19 So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to the one who works[a] wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. 20 And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching,and they fell on their faces to the ground.
THINK: Read the passage aloud slowly again, taking note of the back-and-forth conversation between God and this couple. It forms a picture of what an interactive life with God might be like.
Notice the conversational interaction: who listened; who asked questions.
Would you have asked the question Manoah asked (“What’s your name?”) or a different question?
How would it be to talk to God when lying facedown (see Verse 20)?
PRAY: Try this: Lie facedown on the floor or the ground as Manoah and his wife did. Ask God for further instructions about something in your life. Notice what it’s like to talk to God in this position. Don’t get up too soon.
LIVE: Rest your forehead on the ground with your arms above you. Just “be” before God this way.
I did do this this morning for several awkward minutes. Part of the problem was that my head was stopped up a bit, so I couldn’t breathe with my forehead on the ground. That was my initial preoccupation. Then, I started thinking about yesterday and the list of huge things I DID NOT write out to God. For me, I believe those two things are connected. In the PRAY section we were challenged to notice what it’s like to talk to God in this position.
Yesterday, I had no idea where to begin with the list. Today, I had no idea where to begin to pray. This is not to say that I don’t have big things that I would love to request of God; I most certainly do. The thing is: I’ve been asking God for a pretty big thing for a little over 3 years now, and have been told “not now” for three years. It’s kind of difficult to put down on paper the huge thing that I want from God, because that gives it a life of its own (for me) and, then, I start to get my hopes up for them.
I’m a mother. I’ve tried to raise my kids to understand that just because they say “Please” does not mean they are guaranteed to get what they want. Putting my huge requests on a piece of paper feels like me begging God to “Please” let me have it, and being told “no.” I’m tired of being told no.
Is this a place where any of you find yourself? I believe it is absolutely necessary that we have an accurate appraisal of our standing with God. I felt small lying there on the floor. Indeed, compared to the majesty and splendor of the Creator of the Universe, I am small. But that does not mean that I cannot come to the Father with my requests, even though they seem bigger than I ought to ask.
Lying on the floor should merely represent my willingness to surrender to the Creator of the Universe, whether I physically lie down or not. Personally, I know there have been plenty of times when I have placed my body in that position, but have never gotten there with my will or my heart. And if I am unwilling to submit my will to that of the Father, then I might as well never write down my list of huge requests, and I certainly don’t need to worry about praying for what’s on the list, because all I will really care about is getting my way. Not about glorifying the Father.
I have struggled with that reality many times over this past year, and there’s just no way around it. I must decrease; He must increase. I must get to the point where I can say, as Christ did in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but Thine.”