I want to share something I came across while reading in 2 Kings this week. Since my diagnosis a year ago, I’ve struggled a lot with how to pray for myself. I’ve never stopped praying for courage, strength, joy, peace and eternal perspective. I’ve prayed hard about letting go of expectations I’ve created over the years and learning to hold onto life with a loose grasp. But as far as praying for healing, or longer life, or for specific desires like marriage and family… I’ve felt kind of lost. Can I pray those things? On the radiation table I prayed through every sequence for cancer cells to DIE and good brain cells and hair follicles to LIVE (and they do live! Yay!), But beyond that, praying for myself always consists of me praying for help with my attitude to handle what comes my way, and I pray for an out-flowing of God’s supernatural characteristics (courage, strength, joy, peace) to do that. I’ve found that the focus of all my prayers have been coming to terms with death, being okay with a shorter life, continually letting go of everything I have a tendency to hold onto. I figure God knows what’s best and my job is to keep my heart at a place where I’m okay with anything. Praying for specific things like healing, longer life, love, all feel like I’m trying to tell God what to do or I don’t trust his eternal plan. They feel selfish. So many others have met an early or tragic end, what gives me the right to ask for what they didn’t get?
So I was reading about Hezekiah in chapter 20 of 2 Kings (part of my read through the Bible in a year reading plan) and I ended up reading those first 11 verses about 8 times. All I could tell you about Hezekiah previously was…hmmm he was in the Bible and he was a king… so this story was absolutely fresh to me. Basically Hezekiah gets sick and the Lord sends the prophet Isaiah to him to tell him to get his house in order because he will not recover from this illness. Isaiah leaves and it says Hezekiah turns his face to the wall and prayed “Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And it says he wept bitterly (You can read his longer prayer in Isaiah 38).
Then it says before Isaiah had left the middle court the Lord stopped him and told him to go back and tell Hezekiah “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life.” It goes on, and he recovers and does live fifteen more years!
Now this totally blew my mind! God had a plan in place, he even sent a prophet to communicate it! But God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and saw his tears and it moved him to change the plan. God valued the intimacy and rawness of this righteous man’s prayer over keeping the established timeline. I know that in many cases certain things need to happen for certain reasons, but this passage reminded me that God’s plan isn’t immovable and it doesn’t disrespect him to ask for something… in fact I think he takes delight in hearts that run to him for any request (rawness, bitter tears and everything. In this story he values communion with his child over everything else! I love that! I think the two important things to note here are that 1) Hezekiah had “wholehearted devotion” to the Lord and God rewards faithfulness (John 14:21), and 2) God does work everything together for his glory and sometimes difficult or even tragic circumstances are what give God that greatest glory (Romans 8:18, I Peter 1:7, I Peter 4:13), even if we may never understand it on this earth. Because those of us who choose it, get to live eternally with our Lord, we can live a life unburdened by difficult circumstances because we know what’s coming next! As it says in Psalms “each man’s life is but a breath”. Aren’t you excited for your next breath?:)
So this is what I’m coming away with:
- God does know what’s best and he has a purpose (to bring glory to his name) and I trust him with however he chooses to make that happen.
- God delights in hearing from us… we have desires in our hearts for a reason. I believe a heart that desires God, desires the things of God, so why wouldn’t we want to share it with him? He knows it all anyway
- He answers prayer. It doesn’t matter what kind – for ourselves, for others, for general concepts and specifics, for baby believers, for silly prayers, or majestic prayers – as long as our heart desires to see God glorified, he’s all in favor.
- How he chooses to answer it is up to him, but that’s what makes it exciting! It’s not up to us! He can do anything and if God is willing to answer silly prayers because he loves talking to me… wow. And if my hearts desire is only for the Lord to be glorified then no prayer is selfish because my intention is right. Double wow.
This is what I love about God. You can’t put him in a box. You just can’t. Everything is intertwined and lovely and complicated and unbelievably simple. I love it.
Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers. My soul rejoices.
“… but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” Psalm 18:19
“You turned my wailing into dancing; clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Psalm 30:11-12
Love to you all!
P.S. My brother made a short video montage of me to post on my website. You should be able to access it on the video page.