Teach Us to Pray (The Exodus)

(3 minute read)

The story of the Exodus was central to ancient Israel’s identity and prayer. We may not think of storytelling as belonging in prayer, but the Passover is woven throughout the Psalms, the prayerbook and hymnal of Israel (78, 105, 106, 135, and 136 just to name a few). Story is the source and center of the Christian spiritual life. By praying the story of Scripture, we allow our personal stories to encounter and be shaped by God’s action in all of history. It is not by accident that the Psalms are introduced by a call to “meditate on the Law day and night.” When we do this, returning constantly to root ourselves in God’s story, we become "like trees planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:2–3). This is the full meaning of remembrance—not just mental recollection but the active response of the whole person (and community) to what God has done. This is why God commanded Israel to keep the Passover. Remembrance makes us who we are.

For Israel, the Passover was a festival of remembrance, bringing the past into the present by reenacting the events when God protected and delivered his people out of slavery in Egypt. So when Jesus and his disciples are sharing the Passover meal together before his death, and he tells them, “do this in remembrance of me,” his emphasis is not on “this"—as if he is introducing some new practice—but on “me." Jesus is taking this ancient, familiar Passover tradition and re-centering it on himself. A new Exodus is taking place—a new deliverance led by a new Moses. This is why the table of Communion is the culmination of the Christian spiritual life. At the table we remember—just as Israel did with the Passover—our deliverance from darkness and death and slavery to sin. 

Pray Psalm 77 in remembrance of our most important story, re-centering the Exodus around Christ who delivers us through the waters of baptism.

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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Deeper Dive Podcast (Ten Commandments)

About the Author

Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC