Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you and I will plead with the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow. Only let not Pharaoh cheat again by not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.” So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. And the LORD did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.
Those pesky flies were only the fourth plague, and we know that there were ten. Those who might think that the Lord was unfair in hardening Pharaoh’s heart can see here that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Of course, Moses did not know this initially. He also did not know how long this process would drag out. At this point, he knew that there was some back-and-forth going on between Pharaoh and God, and I wonder how Moses did not become frustrated. The Lord would tell him what to say to Pharaoh, and he would say those things, and Pharaoh would claim to relent, and Moses would pray to God, and Pharaoh would change his mind again. Still, Moses persisted as a partner to this dance.
I tried to imagine what a realistic response would be from someone in Moses’s shoes during this time, and I can think of only one thing. This servant of God can see him move every time he prays, yet he does not see Pharaoh keep his word. God did everything He said He would do to Egypt, and He answered every prayer of Moses to remove those plagues, but the Israelites remained captive. The Lord was moving and clearly doing what He was saying, but He was not simply freeing them. With all this miraculous activity from God and all these audible conversations He had with his servant, I think anyone in that position would be wondering why God simply did not free them.
When we spend time in prayer with the Lord, we might see a similar outcome. Perhaps we experience God moving in our lives mightily in some ways, but in other ways He seems to move rather mysteriously or not at all. This does not mean that God has changed in any way. It also does not necessarily mean that He does not hear our prayers or that He knows not what He does. We simply must continue to press in, trust God and have faith that He has a plan because the prayers of the faithful are fruitful. Faithful Moses would see the fruit of his prayers. Father, give us the faith and persistence to continue in prayer and draw nearer to You when the answers elude us.