12.24.2007

Prayer: Purpose and Motives

Hezekiah has always confused me. He incorporated temple sacrifices and worship once again, after his evil father had led the people of Judah to seek other gods. But at the end of his life, he wasn't exactly exemplary. What happened? He prayed for God to extend his life ... but God wouldn't have if He didn't want to.
As the youth class fill-in teacher over the holidays, I was studying the life of Hezekiah this weekend (rather last minute!). His commitment to seeking--and then obeying--God was admirable. Even as a young leader, he steadfastly directed the people to the Lord.
In the middle of Sunday School yesterday, we read and discussed excerpts about Hezekiah. We read about three prayers he prayed ... and something clicked. Isn't anything with three points lesson worthy? (ha)
1. Prayer: Hezekiah appealed to the Lord to provide atonement for the many people who were sacrificing without having been cleansed (according to the Law) (2 Chron. 30:13-19). Purpose: his passion was to obey the command of the Lord through confession and sacrifice at the temple. Outcome: "And the Lord listened to Hezekiah and healed the people" (2 Chron. 30:20).
2. Prayer: Hezekiah humbly prayed and cried out that God would save them from the Assyrians (2 Chron. 32).Purpose: Sennacherib and the Assyrians were mocking God, boasting about their own gods, and encouraging the people of Judah to reject God.Outcome: God sent an angel to kill 185,000 Assyrian soldiers.
3. Prayer: Hezekiah prayed that God would extend his life after God had ordained that he would die (2 Kings 20).Purpose: It was self-centered, not focused on God's purposes and glory, as before: "Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how [b]I have[/b] walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight."Outcome: His life was extended fifteen years. During those fifteen years, however...- His son Manasseh was born. Manasseh's evil as king was unprecedented.- Hezekiah showed off all the treasures to the enemy (Babylon). He was taking credit for what God had done.- He was self-centered. When he heard the prophecy that Judah would be taken captive, he didn't care. "At least there will be peace and truth in my days."
Hezekiah's purpose in life (revealed in his prayers) seems to be the turning point of his life. When his focus changed from God's glory to his interest, the outcome (at the moment, and longterm) was like night and day.
What are the motives of my heart desires?What is my true purpose? It cannot be hidden. Even when Hezekiah knew all the "buzz words" in his final prayer, the request was centered upon himself, not God.
Hezekiah's life is a humbling reminder to me of the importance of complete commitment to Christ.

4 comments:

Anna said...

I really appreciate your thoughts and writing here, Laura. I came through Kaylene's blog, Every Thought Captive.

Kaylene said...

Hey... I'm not sure I ever read this all the way through. Good thoughts here.

"What are the motives of my heart desires?What is my true purpose? It cannot be hidden. Even when Hezekiah knew all the "buzz words" in his final prayer, the request was centered upon himself, not God."

Hm. so true. Its when we become nothing that God is willing to make us something.

Philip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philip said...

Hi, I am a sudent from the UK and somehow stumbled across your blog. I have found it very encouraging and challenging. I bet you never realised you would have readership from a different continent and culture when you started out with this blog!