Jewish tradition believes that, on this day, Moses returned from his second ascent to the top of Mt. Sinai. On this trip to the top of the mountain he learned that God was not going with the people, but was sending an angel before them. That was much better than what almost happened, because at one point, God threatened to destroy the entire nation due to the Golden Calf incident. However, Moses selflessly interceded on their behalf:
So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of Your book that You have written.” (Exodus 32:31-32)
Having been given the opportunity to be the father of a nation that God would raise up in the stead of those that left Egypt, Moses declined, preferring to stand in the gap for those wayward people. He went so far as to say, “If You’re going to wipe them out, then get rid of me, as well.” The Bible tells us that God responded to his petition, demonstrating that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
The key word, here, is “righteous” and I would recommend to you that the prayer of the righteous needs to be righteous, as well. In other words, it needs to reflect the Creator’s attributes and Will. In this particular case it was a selfless prayer, made on the behalf of others. He prayed for them, knowing they had sinned against God in a most defiant fashion. Yet he put himself in the gap, standing between them and an angry God. Apparently, this type of prayer and intercession — this type of selflessness speaks to the heart of God. I know that this is true because the Father obviously responded to another selfless prayer that said:
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
While our Father responds to the prayers of the righteous, there is no guarantee that He responds to the prayers of the self-righteous. His ear is turned to those who put others before themselves and whose prayers come from humble hearts with sincere motives. In other words, our prayers need to be in concert with His will and with His heart. We must conduct ourselves in a selfless manner because that’s what holiness and righteousness is all about — dying to our will and desires. We have the assurance that, if we indeed walk in righteousness, our prayers will touch the heart of our Father and He will respond to us.
So then, let us walk before Him in humility and with a contrite heart. Let us prefer our brother’s needs before our own, considering their well-being — especially their eternal well-being — and fulfill the call to be the servants He wishes us to be.