Does Prayer Change God or Me?
I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. 2 Kings 20:5
While enslaved to my addiction, I prayed over and over for miraculous transformation, for God to instantly take away the appetite for that which was destroying me. He did not. Though I still believe He could have changed me instantly, I believe that He wanted me to obey Him first. It was only after I did what it took to deny myself and follow Him – confessing, going to treatment and changing my life – that my appetite changed.
From that experience, I learned that sometimes prayer is more about seeking God’s will than asking Him to do something for me. My prayer changed me. The mistake that I have made then, is to think that my experience with that one specific prayer defines how God always works through prayer. Based on that life experience, prayer is not about changing God. Prayer is about changing me.
Today’s passage though, tells a very different story. In it, the godly King Hezekiah became ill and was told by the prophet Isaiah, that he was going to die. In his desperate hour, Hezekiah prayed to God, who answered his prayer, healing him.
Hezekiah’s prayer changed God’s plan. We could argue that God knew Hezekiah was going to pray, and that God planned to heal him from the start – this is probably true – but we cannot escape the fact, that from Hezekiah’s perspective, prayer changed God’s plan.
This is a lesson I have had to relearn while working through this passage. Prayer is absolutely about God changing me, but that does not mean that I should stop asking things of God. I must continually seek his will, but I must also continue to take my concerns, trials and needs to Him, asking for divine assistance.
Prayer is about communicating with and relying on God, focusing our lives on Him in faith. This means that our prayers move us, and that – at least from our perspective – our prayers move God.