Go and tell Hezekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father:‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears;
surely I will add to your days fifteen years.’”
—Isaiah 38:5 (NIV)
It is an essential principle of our Christian faith that God knows what is better for us than we do. When we pray, we verbalize that belief by asking God to bless according to His will. Yet there is no doubt we have a definite agenda in our hearts when we come to our Father. If we are praying about sickness, we ask for healing. If we are praying for a good outcome for an event, we pray for success. For any number of circumstances, when we take them to God in prayer, we pray specifically. And we should. However, holding on too tightly to our own desires can be costly.
In Chapter 38 of Isaiah, King Hezekiah was gravely ill. In mercy, God sent Isaiah to advise the king that he would not recover, giving Hezekiah an opportunity to “get his house in order.” This is news no one wants to hear and it was no different for Hezekiah. So he prayed, reminding God of his faithfulness and begged for more time. With compassion, God heard Hezekiah’s prayer, sending Isaiah to tell the king He would honor the request with an additional fifteen years of life.
What a gift! Yet as we now know, Hezekiah had no idea there would be extreme consequences for those extra fifteen years. Manasseh was born to Hezekiah and then succeeded his father as king. Manasseh reigned for fifty-five years, the most evil king ever to rule over Judah. He encouraged idol worship, using his own son in the practice. He shed much innocent blood, exhibiting an extreme wickedness that provoked God’s anger. God continued to warn him but Manasseh ignored God’s admonitions. The nation of Judah significantly suffered and was ultimately defeated by the Babylonians. This from a man who would never have been born if Hezekiah had accepted God’s will for his life.
Accepting God’s will in our lives is no problem when the journey is easy. It is where the going gets tough we might find ourselves questioning Him, getting angry with Him or begging Him for our will to be done no matter what. The issue isn’t about openly sharing our deepest desires with the Lord; it is about compelling our compassionate Father to answer according to our will, not His. He alone knows the future and we can trust Him. It is never wrong to ask but always right to be ready to accept His answer, even when it is no.
In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times
that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not.
—C. S. Lewis