Week three: This Is No Time to Pray

Genesis 15:16, Joshua 7

I. Today’s text addresses several dynamics. 

1. Religious people who pass our responsibility off on God.  

  • Prayer feels proactive. 
  • Maybe God’s waiting’ on us.

2. It addresses tolerant people who don’t want to hold people responsible because it feels harsh—we call them the enablers.

  • He’s got a good heart. She has been through a rough patch. 

3. Those of you who feel like you are reaping what someone else has sown. 

  • Are you reaping what someone else has sown? Probably. Irresponsibility is a community affair. 

II. Joshua’s Day of Reckoning 

Genesis 15:13-16 - Then the Lord said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. 14 But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. 15 (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) 16 After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.
Joshua 7:1-13 - But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah. 2 Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. 3 When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.” 4 So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai 5 chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away. 6 Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening. 7 Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! 8 Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? 9 For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?” 10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction. 13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.

A.  God reinforces the community aspect of responsibility.

  • Only one person disobeyed and the entire community is suffering. They are reaping what Achan sowed. 

B. To tolerate irresponsible behavior is to punish the entire community

  • We tend to think this is reciprocal. I pick up their slack they pick up mine but it never stays that way. Somebody always rolls off the teetertotter and wham someone’s in the hospital.
  • Bottom line: Don’t compensate for irresponsibility, yours or anyone else’s. Confront it. Do something.

» So often we find ourselves like Joshua did. We are praying when we should be acting and we find ourselves acting when we should be praying. How do I know when God wants me to get up and get busy?

III. There’s a time to pray. And there’s a time to stand up and do something . . . take responsibility.

A. How do you know?

  • It is difficult to know sometimes because we should pray about everything but then sometimes that everything is waiting for our action.
  • Two Clues to know when to take action:
  1. When God has already addressed the issue.
  2. When your behavior has created the situation.

B. Application

  1. Don’t just pray that you will meet the right person. Go to the right places and stay away from the wrong ones.
  2. Don’t just pray for a healthy relationship. Stop doing the unhealthy stuff.
  3. Don’t just pray for less stress financially. Get out of debt, downsize, take financial peace.
  4. Don’t just pray for your kids. Spend time with them. Engage. Discipline them.
  5. Don’t just pray for your grades. Study.
  6. Don’t just pray for good health. Eat right.
  7. Don’t just pray for your neighbors. Serve them.


As you think about what you would like to see GOD do in your life, what part of that is your responsibility? Will you own your zone? Is God saying to you today, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Take responsibility.”