The Heart of Prayer

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19 years ago today, my mom visited me at the hospital after I gave birth to my youngest. She was not feeling well and told us that her urine was pinkish. Not many days after, she had kidney failure. My sister and I cried on the phone when we realised that mom was seriously ill. She had dialysis for the next 6 months until her kidney transplant in Feb. 2003.

Dialysis is a long hard journey… at least 5-6 hrs 3x a week of travel time, prep time (countless needle insertions when veins collapsed), blood pumped out, purified and pumped back into the body – a process of at least 4 hours, then tests, clean up and pack up. Doctors advised that transplant is the way for a better quality of life. Mama was hesitant about having a transplant. So she prayed.

As she prayed, she read Hezekiah’s story.
Read 2 Kings 20:1-6

v. 1 Bad news! Isaiah – God’s messenger told King Hezekiah to prepare to die.

v. 2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. To face the wall… perhaps to be alone with God? To face the wall to think about his life and impending death? To hide his tears? It doesn’t matter. What matters is he prayed. What do you do when you know you will die soon?

v. 3 Just one sentence only, 1 request – REMEMBER, Lord what I have done, remember that I followed you wholeheartedly and faithfully. This is an action word for the Lord – he prayed for God to do something. To remember. He called on God to remember that he did right. Yet he did not ask God to heal him. He just wept bitterly. How would you pray?

v. 4 So Isaiah went to deliver one short message then he left. Before Isaiah left the middle court, God sent him back to the king with an answer. God answered fast! It is not so much about how soon the answer came but what the answer is about.
v. 5-6 God’s answer:
1) Who is Hezekiah? He’s the ruler of ‘my’ people.
2) Who is the Lord? He’s the God of your father David.
3) What did God say:
3.1. I have heard your prayer.
3.2. I have seen your tears.
3.3. I will heal you. How?
3.3.1. On the 3rd day you will go out of bed to my temple.
3.3.2. I will add 15 years to your life.
3.3.3. I will save you and your people from your enemy.
3.4. WHY? v.6b for ‘my’ sake and for the sake of ‘my’ servant, David.

Lessons about prayer:
1) God’s answers to our prayers are about relationships – who we are to him and who he is to us.
2) God answers us according to what he sees and what he hears.
3) God answers in specifics – in promises of future things that he will do.
4) God answers for his own sake and for the sake of his children. God promised David that he will not fail to have an heir on the throne. God keeps his promises.

My mom agreed to go through the transplant based on this assurance from God’s Word. God gave her another 13 years. It is not the answer that Hezekiah got. God answers our prayers in different ways at different times according to his sovereignty.. for his own sake! For his glory and for the sake of his children.

This story is not about the ultimate answer to all fatal illnesses. It is not about the faith of the pray-er. Not all prayers of Christians for healing get answered. “Unanswered” prayer is not only a matter of faith. What is prayer about?

Prayer is relationship between God and the pray-er. It is about who God is to me and who I am to God. It is about God seeing and hearing what I want to say to him – all I have in me – my joy, my grief, my pain. Prayer is about God’s Words, promises and things he will do – for HIS sake – for his purpose and for the sake of his children.

Teach me Lord, how to pray for your sake. Amen.

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