Be careful what you pray for

Be careful what you pray for

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. – Psalm 139:16

Isaiah 38:1-5

 1 About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: This is what the LORD says: ‘Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’

 2 When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD,

 3 “Remember, O LORD, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly.

 4 Then this message came to Isaiah from the LORD:

 5 “Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life.

Sometimes due to our love and desire to relieve the suffering of others, we mistakenly pray for the wrong things. We pray for what we think is best, rather than praying for what the Father knows is best.

Earlier in my life when I heard that a good friend or family member had a terrible illness or disease that would probably lead to death, my first instinct was to pray for healing. Somehow, we naturally think that death is a bad thing and should be avoided at all costs.

This is not what the Bible teaches. Death is simply a part of life, and each of our days have been numbered. In fact, the Scriptures teach that the Father has appointed a day for each of us to die.

Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

 1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

 2 A time to be born and a time to die.

Knowing that the Father has recorded every day of my life, from birth to death in His book, provides comfort and security. There is simply no reason to fear death. What I fear is that I might have done more in His service had I been more diligent and faithful. But I’m also sure He and has all my efforts or lack thereof, written down as well.

Hezekiah was among the best of the kings of Judah. He had an excellent reputation.

Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time (2 Kings 18:5 ).

It was about 700 BC and apparently things were going well for Hezekiah. It was life as usual. But that suddenly changes. Hezekiah became deathly ill. The Father sent His servant the prophet Isaiah. The message was short, blunt, and terrifying. “Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness” (Isaiah 38:1).

Hezekiah was panic stricken. He turned to the Father in prayer. Weeping bitterly, he reminded the Father of his faithfulness to Him.

But think again. Hadn’t the Father just told Hezekiah that he was going to die? Wouldn’t that indicate that Hezekiah’s death was the Father’s will? But at that moment, Hezekiah was not concerned about the will of the Father. He was only concerned about himself. I imagine there was a bit of begging, pleading, and bargaining going on that was not recorded for us.

Remarkably, the Father sent Isaiah with a revised message. “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isaiah 38:5).

If we were there, we would have been shouting, “Praise the Lord!” (Isaiah 38:1) “Who is like you among the gods, O LORD – glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)

To be completely honest, I identify with Hezekiah. If I were in his situation, I would probably react exactly the same way. What about you?

REFLECT & PRAY

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle” (Albert Einstein).

Father thank You that You have already provided what we need to live for You, and die well. Your truth is the foundation of our lives, the reality of Your spirit within allows us to live above our circumstances.

INSIGHT

The Father is generous with second chances. He turned back the clock of Hezekiah’s life. When we are given second chances, what we do with them shows what is in our heart. Hezekiah’s near death experience, and what followed, changed him for the worst.

2 Chronicles 32:25 But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud.

What did Hezekiah do with the privilege of his added years?

The word of Hezekiah’s illness and remarkable recovery at the hands of the living God of Israel spread far and wide. Rather than send representatives for a funeral to pay their last respects, rulers sent envoys to celebrate Hezekiah’s new 15 years of life. Apparently, everyone was invited to the party. It was a grand affair.

Envoys came from as far away as Babylon. Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah. Hezekiah had stood firm against the intimidation of the Assyrians. But he could not resist the flattery of the Babylonians.

Hezekiah was delighted. He melted. And his brain went into neutral. No doubt, he was puffed up with all of the attention he was receiving. He was beaming with self-importance and pride. He welcomed them with open arms and showed off all that he had. There was nothing in his house or in all of his realm that he did not make available to his guests.

Hezekiah showed them everything in his treasure-houses – the silver, the gold, the spices, and the aromatic oils. He also took them to see his armory and showed them everything in his royal treasuries! There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them (Isaiah 39:2).

It never occurred to Hezekiah for a moment to ask the Father about how to react to the fawning adulation of his visitors. It turns out this was a tragic, deadly mistake. Babylon was no friend of the Jews. No doubt the Babylonians were taking inventory of all the booty that would soon be theirs. On top of that, they took note of his weaponry, and the city’s fortifications, strengths, and weaknesses.

What happens next is predictable. The Father sent Isaiah the prophet to confront Hezekiah. Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did those men want? Where were they from?” Hezekiah replied, “They came from the distant land of Babylon” (Isaiah 39:3)

I can only imagine the expression on Isaiah’s blazing crimson, furious, indignant face. With burning, penetrating eyes, Isaiah proclaimed the Father’s message of judgment.

Isaiah 39:5-7

 5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to this message from the LORD of Heaven’s Armies:

 6 ‘The time is coming when everything in your palace– all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now– will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left,’ says the LORD.

 7 ‘Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.’”

It’s never a very good idea to reveal to your enemy the best way to defeat you, and the spoils and wealth that they were receive when they do.

But that’s not all. One more really bad thing happened as a result of the Father graciously answering Hezekiah’s prayer. It was during the next 15 years that Hezekiah had a son named Manasseh. Upon Hezekiah’s death, Manasseh became the next king. Manasseh was among the very worst and most evil of all of the kings of Judah. Was 15 more years of life worth all the collateral damage?

2 Kings 20:21 So Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and Manasseh his son became king in his place.

Be careful what you pray for

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