This Sunday evening I’ll be speaking on King Hezekiah’s death sentence that is recorded in the 38th chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy. We read these words in the first verse, “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “this is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover” (NIV). This is a pretty clear death sentence from God and yet after Hezekiah pours our his heart before God we read in verses 4 and 5, “Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, “This is what the Lord, the God of your father David says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life” (NIV). It sure does seem like the all-knowing, sovereign God of the universe changes His mind about the death sentence that was announced in verse 1.
How can this be? Some say God cannot change His mind without contradicting His very essence and nature. Yet many times in scripture we see God responding to people’s prayers and reacting to God’s Word in such a way that God changes His plans. Remember that Jonah announced the certain destruction of Nineveh in 40 days yet when the Ninevites repented God choose not to destroy Nineveh, despite Jonah’s disapproval. Remember when God intended to destroy the Israelites following the golden calf incident and make a nation out of Moses, but Moses interceded on their behalf and God relented.
Which raises another question about praying – why pray? If God already knows everything and His will is set, what’s the point of us petitioning Him about anything? Well, one of the reasons that we pray is to get our mind and our thoughts in line with God’s will. This is clearly demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane where He sought God, after His flesh, to allow this cup to pass from His. But remember His words “not my will, but your will be done.” We also should pray so that we can lift up God’s name in praise and adoration for answers to prayer. Prayer should issue forth in praise even as God moves and works through our prayers. We have also seen in the above listed illustrations that prayer does certainly seem to play a part in the eternal plan of God. Over and over again in the book of Judges the people prayed in the face of their servitude and God rose up deliverers in the form of Judges.
Lastly, I believe prayer is such a critical part of our spiritual lives because even if it doesn’t change God’s mind, it certainly can change our hearts, actions and attitude. How many times have we approached God with some bitter situation or problem only to find that in prayer God has relieved us of the stress of that circumstance? Remember Peter’s words in his first letter when he tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (5:7 NIV). I don’t have all the answers about the nature of God or prayer but I’m going to go right on praying as I seek God to transform me into the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor Rich Sivo