Imagine the most brutal dictator of modern times, one raised in a Christian culture, but rejecting his heritage for something more sinister, bent on conquest and control, imagining himself as godlike before his people, a man like Hitler or Stalin, then in a miraculous turn of events, he repents of his brutality, embraces his childhood faith, and begins to undo the horrors inflicted upon his people.
Enter King Manasseh. Manasseh may be the the most evil of the Biblical kings, rejecting the faith of Israel, diving headlong into paganism, enforcing it upon his people, killing prophets, and sacrificing his own children.
Unlike our imaginary scenario, Manasseh is humiliated by defeat and imprisonment, leading to repentance.
His prayer is especially relevant during the Lenten season, and is found at the end of the book of 2 Chronicles, but only in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint).
The prayer has much to teach about repentance. Prayerfully read the Prayer of Manasseh, and consider these thoughts on a life of repentance.
1. Sometimes dramatic life events are necessary for us to repent.
2. Repentance is conditioned upon a vision of the Holy.
3. The distance you sense from God empowers repentance.
4. Confession is a critical element to repentance.
5. Repentance leads to action not just sorrowful feelings.
6. Repentance is not a one time event, but a way of life.
7. Repentance is an act of crucifixion of self. It is the way of the cross.
Manasseh’s repentance was born on Golgotha. For many Christians, each day is a day of cross and resurrection, and such was probably true for Manasseh after this dramatic experience. However, it was his imprisonment and deprivation that opened a crack in his soul for the grace of God to enter. The utter helplessness of his life shattered the image of a powerful king who could defy the traditions of his fathers and manipulate the darkness for his own control and satisfaction. The cross was thrust upon him, but he chose to bear it, and resurrection was to follow.
Most of us may not have such outward displays of wickedness,but inwardly we build kingdoms of darkness to protect ourselves from the fear of death. - The Rest of the Bible
P.S. Here are some other related resources:
- An article on Manasseh's prayer: And now I bend the knee of my heart
- Like this prayer, there are other "missing Old Testament books" found only in the Greek OT, to learn more check out my book, The Rest of the Bible.