Prayer is one of the foundations of the Christian life, but there may be times when our desires overwhelm the will of God for our life.
“In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live....Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” 2 Kings 20:1, 5-6
Hezekiah was a great king. He was one of the best Judah ever had. He trusted God and sought after Him. He destroyed the idols in the land and even broke in pieces the brazen serpent Moses had made because the people had been worshiping it. He restored the worship of the true God. He was not afraid to stand for righteousness against the odds. God honoured him with success and riches.
The time came for Hezekiah to die. Even the famous prophet, Isaiah, told him so. But Hezekiah had a good life, he didn’t want to die. He pleaded with God to let him live longer. God answered his prayer and gave him an extra 15 years.
Up to that point His reign was building to a climax. Had he died at the time appointed, he would have run a great race. In the last 15 years of his life things began to change:
- His heart became lifted up in pride.
- He fathered Manasseh who ruled after him. Manasseh was one of the most evil kings of Judah. He was the one who took Judah beyond the Point Of No Return into the judgment of God. According to tradition, Manasseh also had the prophet Isaiah murdered by sawing him in half.
- He showed all his treasures to the representatives of Babylon. Isaiah criticized him for it and told him that one day all his treasures would be captured by the Babylonians.
- Instead of praying for God to change His mind [as he had went he was sick] on the judgment, he comforted himself with the thought that it would not happen in his lifetime.
Was Hezekiah wrong to ask for healing and a long life? No, health and long life are normally a blessing from God. It is never wrong to ask God for anything that is not sin. Jesus asked to escape the cross, Moses asked to enter Canaan. Neither sinned in their request.
What did Hezekiah do wrong then? I believe, he placed his will above the will of God. He loved life more than he loved God. He was not willing to accept God’s will. Both Jesus and Moses deeply desired the answer to their prayer, but both were willing to submit to the Will of God. Their priority was the Will of God.
When is prayer wrong? Prayer is wrong when we are placing our will above God’s Will. There is nothing wrong with asking God to change His mind or talking with Him about things we don’t want to do. But in the end we must be submitted to the Will of God. If we insist on our will above God’s Will, God will sometimes give it to us, but it always ends up to our own hurt. God is much wiser than we are!
We need to be intense and deeply involved in our prayers, but we must always have the undercurrent of submission to God. Our desire should be: “God don’t give me my requests if they are contrary to Your Will. Keep me in the center of Your Will even if that is a short life or hard circumstances. I will trust You.”