If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. – 2 Timothy 2:13
What does your prayer life look like when trouble comes?
When hard circumstances come galloping over our horizon, everyone wants to have the prayer life of David. Dust off the harps, go to our prayer closet, recite The Valley of Vision, and weep.
But, alas, there’s too much Ahaz in us.
We often treat prayer the way kids treat their green vegetables – we know it’s good for us, we know it will help us be stronger and grow more, but we mostly pick at it. It takes some sort of crisis moment, some malnourishment or severe weight gain, to cause us to turn to it.
For Ahaz, the crisis was imminent. The scene in Isaiah 7 opens in suspense, as the kings of Ephraim and Syria form an alliance and seek to infiltrate Judah. They hoped to coerce them into joining their pact against Assyria. The weak heart of the nation of Judah is shaken, “as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” (7:2). The Lord commends Isaiah to go to Judah’s king, Ahaz, and share a message of comfort to him and his people – these threats will not prove fruitful by God’s sovereign hand, and Judah should wait on the Lord and what He has promised (7:4-9). Then God begins to speak directly to Ahaz:
“Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, ‘Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.’ But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.’ And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:10-14)
I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.
Perhaps Ahaz was just trying to stick to the words of Deuteronomy 6:16: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” It’s possible, but not likely. Because I know my own prayer life when trouble pays a visit.