Reason is a gift from God, but that doesn’t make it a substitute for seeking God’s will through prayer.
Moses appears to have been an intelligent man. He figured out how to flee Egypt after killing an Egyptian, how to survive in the wilderness, and how to make his way back without prosecution. He also transformed non-militarized men into a military and taught them to craft the weaponry necessary to win countless battles. But Moses didn’t rely on these abilities; he relied on asking God his will and waiting for his guidance.
Moses relies on God’s will so often that I’m convinced that the actions that appear to come from great intelligence and reason—like his ability to escape and reenter Egypt and his ability to train people in combat—were based on God’s direct guidance.
We see Moses seek God’s guidance in matters that he could have used reason to discern as well. In Numbers 27, when Moses is asked if a family should receive an inheritance of land (in the promised land) even though their father died without a son to inherit it, he could have simply said, “Of course; God is gracious. He won’t punish your entire family forever for your father’s sins.” (That was the reason they weren’t granted the land automatically.) His simple reason of “God is good” probably could have answered this for him. But Moses seeks God’s guidance instead. That’s the right answer.
Our culture overemphasizes reason. Often, the people best at reasoning are promoted—in our workplaces, our churches, and our government—so it’s easy to see reason as the ultimate power. Instead, though, we should seek God in all things. His guidance is always needed. While he gave us our minds, he also gave us the Spirit; and while the mind can fail, the Spirit, if truly sought, listened to, and waited upon, cannot.
JOHN D. BERRY