When I turn my back on you | Discipleship Prayer Day 20
The grace of God is available to all, regardless of how wicked they may be.
You, Lord, according to
your gentle grace,
promised forgiveness to those
who are sorry for their sins.
In your great mercy,
you allowed sinners to turn
from their sins and find salvation.
God of those who do what is right,
you didn’t offer
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
who didn’t sin against you,
a chance to change their hearts and lives.
But you offer me, the sinner,
the chance to change my heart and life,
because my sins outnumbered
the grains of sand by the sea.
My sins are many, Lord; they are many.
I am not worthy to look up,
to gaze into heaven
because of my many sins.
― Prayer of Manasseh* 1:7b-9a
The Prayer of Manasseh is believed to not be written by King Manasseh, himself, or even during the time of his reign. Likely, it was written much later, which is why the text is not included in most Protestant Bibles. The text is powerful, though, and teaches a powerful theological truth, that the grace of God is available to all, regardless of how wicked they may be. King Manasseh was a wicked king. Under his reign, Judah relapsed into idolatry, turning their back on Jehovah in order to worship other gods.
The words of Isaiah rang out during this time in history -- But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:2 NIV).
In time, Manasseh was captured and imprisoned. In prison, he repents and cried out to God.
Now, Lord, I suffer justly.
I deserve the troubles I encounter.
Already I’m caught in a trap.
I’m held down by iron chains
so that I can’t lift up my head
because of my sins.
There’s no relief for me,
because I made you angry,
doing wrong in front of your face,
setting up false gods
and committing offenses.
Now I bow down before you
from deep within my heart,
begging for your kindness.
I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned,
and I know the laws I’ve broken.
I’m praying, begging you:
Forgive me, Lord, forgive me.
― Prayer of Manasseh* 1:9b-13a
God, it seems, did not forget Manasseh. Hearing his cry or repentance, the kingdom was restored. He brought Judah back to the worship of Jehovah and after a reign of fifty-five years ( the longest in Judah) King Manasseh died.
The prophet Isaiah offers the same hope to all who have turned away from God -- “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD (Isaiah 59:20-21 NIV)