If your prayers have been infrequent, perhaps a dose of motivation is needed. In 2 Chronicles 33:12-13, we learn what turned one of Judah’s most ungodly kings, Manasseh, into a man of earnest prayer:
“Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.”
Notice three features of this prayer that can help us reinvigorate our prayer-life:
1) The incentive for Manasseh’s prayer: “when he was in affliction” (v. 12a). Sometimes the turmoil or trauma of life can remind us of our humanity and mortality and reawaken us to our spiritual needs. Manasseh had created these problems by many years of ungodly living and turning away from God’s message. The Lord was open to receive him back. His forgiveness, however, won’t necessarily take away the course of natural consequences set in motion by our misconduct. Nothing bad that we experience is for nothing if it draws us closer to our Creator.
2) The intensity of Manasseh’s prayer: “he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him” (vv. 12b-13a). Manasseh’s prayer reminds us of the publican who “standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!'” (Luke 18:13). Prayers that lack spirit or are merely repeating words without feeling perhaps won’t rise any higher than the ceiling. Prayers that reach the ear of God are like “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
3) The impact of Manasseh’s prayer: “He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom” (v. 13b). What a tremendous example of God’s presence and patience! Manasseh had ignored the Lord for decades, yet our Father readily provided for Him when he turned his situation over to Him. Of course, the precise outcome of our prayers are in God’s plan and according to what serve His purpose. For example, the apostle Paul pleaded for relief, and in his situation, the Lord saw that instead of eliminating the problem, He would continue to equip Paul to endure it (see II Cor. 12:7-10). As he relied on God, “Manasseh knew that the Lord was God“ (v. 13). Regardless of the manner in which the Lord answers our prayers, we can continue to have certainty that He is providing for us in the way that is best for us.
James pointed out that “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). As we increase the urgency of our prayers, the Heavenly Father increases the frequency of His answers.