Each of us has things in our lives that we wish were different. We’ve lost people who we wish were still with us, we’ve been stuck in situations we wish were different and prayed for things we want but never receive. Many of us have watched loved ones suffer through difficult times and thought to ourselves, “If it were up to me, this wouldn’t have happened.”
In 2003, director Tom Shadyac made a movie called Bruce Almighty. It’s the story of a man, Bruce, who is dissatisfied with his life and complains about God a lot. One day Bruce has a meeting with God and God gives Bruce all of His power, effectively making Bruce God. Bruce has all of God’s power, but he doesn’t have God’s wisdom, love, grace or viewpoint. Bruce can’t see the life and history of the entire universe from beginning to end like God can; he can’t see how things are related, so he doesn’t understand the effect one thing might have on many others.
Bruce tries to make his life perfect but makes a mess instead. He says “yes” to everyone’s prayers, thinking that will make all people happy, but it ends up causing a riot in his city. In short, Bruce really screws up being God. God gave Bruce the opportunity to change his life story, but Bruce learns that there’s a reason for the way God does things.
This lesson is even more evident in the Bible. King Hezekiah had done good in the sight of the Lord but he was very sick; he knew he was dying. He’d reached the end of the time God had appointed for him on this earth and his life was finally ending.
In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live’” (Isaiah 38:1).
Hezekiah wasn’t ready. Hezekiah didn’t respond to this news with thankfulness for the years he’d lived and didn’t trust that this was what was best, so he did the only thing he could think of–he prayed. If you’re reading along in your Bible, you’ll find Hezekiah’s story in 2 Kings 18-20 and Isaiah 38-39.
Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly (Isaiah 38:2-3).
Reading on, you’ll find that God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and granted him 15 more years of life. Hezekiah is grateful and his first question is for the prophet Isaiah.
‘What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?’ (Isaiah 38:22)
Three years after his healing, Hezekiah has a son with a woman named Hephzibah; the son’s name was Manasseh. Let’s see what the Bible says about Manasseh:
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hephzibah (2 Kings 21:1).
Remember, Manasseh’s father Hezekiah was a good king; Hezekiah did good in the sight of God.
But they (Israel) did not listen, and Manasseh seduced them to do evil more than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel (2 Kings 21:9).
Manasseh caused Israel to do more evil than the pagan nations God had destroyed! He was king for 55 years–that’s a lot of evil.
God is good. Do you think this is what He wanted for His people? If Hezekiah had died when God originally planned, then Manasseh never would’ve been born and Israel wouldn’t have walked such an evil path. God could’ve said “no” to Hezekiah, but sometimes when we keep praying for God to do things our way, He agrees; maybe that’s what happened here. The Bible doesn’t say how many times Hezekiah prayed to be healed.
Do you ever pray for God to do things your way instead of being thankful for the way He’s doing them? I do. It’s hard to be grateful for what we have or for a God who knows what He’s doing when we’re struggling. Getting God to answer our prayers our way isn’t always what’s best for us or those around us. Sometimes our prayers have greater consequences than we realize; that’s why it’s so important to pray and obey according to God’s will.
Girls, I think it’s okay to pray for how we want things handled as long as we pray for God’s will to be done more than our own. Based on Hezekiah’s story, what do you think?