Who among us would deny that Hezekiah was a man of prayer?
We recall two incidents in Hezekiah’s life that were made memorable by answered prayer. In both cases the answer was clear and immediate.
When Sennacherib of Assyria threatened Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem with destruction, reviled the Lord God of Judah, and boasted that He would not be able to save them, Hezekiah prayed. That very night an angel from heaven strode through the Assyrian campsite and left 185,000 corpses in his wake.
In shame Sennacherib hightailed it home, only to be murdered by his own offspring.
…grace is all grace for all, or it is no grace at all for anybody!…
When the Lord through Isaiah told Hezekiah to set his house in order, for he would shortly die, the king humbled himself in bitter tears and prayed. That same day the Lord answered his prayer by adding fifteen years to the king’s earthly life.
Surely such a godly man who prayed for his country and his life also prayed for his family – especially for his son.
Manasseh was only twelve when Hezekiah died. Thus Hezekiah never witnessed the wicked and abominable things Manasseh did during his own reign: promoting and practicing idolatry, witchcraft and sorcery, sacrificing his children by fire to the idol Molech, and even placing a carved idol in the temple of God. Manasseh seduced Judah and did more evil than did the heathen nations. Did Hezekiah know what Manasseh would do, how he would turn out?
Perhaps not specifically, but like any parent, he must have seen portending signs of rebellion and evil character – even at Manasseh’s young age. It is hard to imagine that Hezekiah did not pray, ‘Lord, save my son!’
Had Hezekiah prayed for his son in vain? Indeed not! The chronicler reports that the Lord first spoke to Manasseh – probably through His prophets – but Hezekiah would not listen. So God sent the Assyrians (feared for their cruelty) who put hooks in Manasseh’s nose, bound him with chains, and led him away to Babylon. There, in great affliction, Manasseh greatly humbled himself before the God of his fathers and to Him he cried out. The Lord heard his entreaty and brought him back to Jerusalem. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God” and responded with personal and national religious reforms (2 Chronicles 33).
“Do you mean to say that if Hitler had repented of his evil and turned to Jesus for forgiveness, he could have been saved?” Such is the skeptical question of many a moralist, who are shocked at the affirmative answer because they do not understand grace. To them it seems quite fair for God to offer forgiveness to the outwardly moral and decent, but how could He offer it to the whole world—even to physical and spiritual mass murderers!?
God’s Grace at Work!
Like Hitler, like Manasseh! God does what He does because He is the God who saves by His grace—grace received by the sinner through faith in His Son Jesus.
Either such grace is all grace for all, or it is no grace at all for anybody!
In answer to Solomon’s prayer God promised that if His people would humble themselves, seek His face, turn from their evil ways…then He would “hear from heaven and will forgive their sin” (7:14).
Jesus Himself invites miserable sinners such as we are to come to Him, assuring that “the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).
A great flock of wayward sheep have come to the Lord, finding forgiveness in His blood. We are among them, for with Paul we confess: “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Do we have a son or daughter who has forsaken the paths of truth and righteousness? Do we see them rebelling against what they were taught to believe and confess?
We are living in an evil time and dangerous place. The idols of mammon, abortion–on-demand, astrology, false beliefs, and lust surround us all. We are tempted to mentally carve out our own gods and give them competing space in God’s temple (our own bodies!). At times a case may seem so hopeless that one offers the tepid, rather unconvincing comment, “Well, you can always pray for them.”
Pray for them indeed!
We know Jesus prayed for His disciples and us. It seems inconceivable to think that the father in the parable did not pray for his prodigal son(s), just as Hezekiah must have prayed for his prodigal-to-be-son.
So pray, not as a last I’ll-give-it-a-try effort, but with full confidence that the prayer of a righteous person avails much (see James 5:16).
But if we so pray for a rebellious daughter or wayward son, be advised. God’s answer may not be immediate. If we pray for rescue from evil, also be prepared for God to use any means necessary to bring restoration.
First of all, He will normally speak His Word – condemning sin and calling for repentance. Pride must be broken. Before the sweetness of heaven, God may first send a taste of hell. The prodigal son ate the food of hogs in humiliation. Manasseh was disgraced with hooks in his nose, like an ornery bull is humbled and controlled.
The sinner must first recognize his terrible spiritual sickness and helpless plight. Then God heals; then He forgives and restores with His soothing, comforting, undeserved grace.
As we pray for God’s Kingdom and its citizens, for our needs and the needs of our country, may a fervent, faithful cry arise across our land: “Lord, have mercy, for Jesus’ sake. Save my child!”