He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ – 2 Samuel 12:22
David had murdered a man and slept with his wife and fathered a child by her. God saw the evil done by David and spared his own life but took the life of the illegitimate child as a result of David’s sins. David fasted and pleaded with God to save the innocent child despite God saving and sparing his life.
Sometimes we just don’t get it. God does one miracle to counter our eternal death but reacts differently in another. Then we tend to go off and blame God for the ills we created. Now David didn’t blame God for the death of the child because he knew the word given by the prophet. David should have died according to the Mosaic Law, but God forgave his sins and spared his life. This act of grace wasn’t enough for David, though. He wanted to spare the life of the child also, which any reasonable person would do. However, David knew the child would be taken by God ahead of time. Thus, his pleading and fasting to change God’s mind were mere acts of futility. The fate of the child had been determined already.
So, I have to ask you and me, “Why do we do the same things? Why do we think that fasting and vast amounts of prayer sway God’s mind when he has spoken already?” Fasting and prayer are not meant to be tools we employ to sway God or get him to change his mind. These disciplines exist to help us overcome ourselves, so that we may focus on God and spend intimate time with him. They are meant to help us conquer the flesh not serve and “magic wands” that can change the mind and heart of God. Sure, people intercede for others in prayer that result in favorable changes for the recipient, but he is the one who causes such people to pray for the recipient. Yes, Hezekiah had 15 years added to his life because he pleaded with God after God told him he’d die in three days. However, that king had a right heart within him and merely asked God to save him from death. He was not like his great-x grandfather David who pleaded for God to make right what he’d done wrong.
Jesus taught us to be persistent in prayer, but James his brother reminded us to have the right heart and motive in prayer. For if we do such, then God will answer our prayers in the affirmative. The difference between David and Hezekiah was a matter of the heart and the motive. David tried to conceal sin while Hezekiah reminded the LORD the good he’d done for him.
Father, how many times have I come to you and asked you to bail me out of a bad situation that I put myself in? I cannot remember the number, and you have blotted them out of your mind through your forgiveness. I repent of the anger, bitterness, selfishness, impatience, greed, malice, impurity, and evil that I have allowed to creep into me lately. I don’t deserve your love or grace or mercy, but you promised that if I would confess my sins, that you are faithful and just to forgive me of them. I don’t want to use your love and grace as a free pass to sin and do what my flesh craves. Instead, I want to truly seek after you and do what you want me to do. Help me and strengthen me to do what’s right in your sight. I love you and want it to be reflected back to everyone in what I say and do. Forgive me, Daddy, for sinning against you and heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.