Pray For a Tender Heart

Introduction

The times of the Bible Kings were times of hard heartedness toward God – often filled with immorality, idol worship, rebellion. Manassah – For 55 years ruled harshly over Judah – a reign of evil and terror (2 Kings 21). During his reign the streets of the capital were awash with blood from one end to the other. Amon – When Manassah died, his son became King at age 22. His ways were evil in even greater proportions (2 Chro 33). In just two short years Amon was so hated and despised that his own servants plotted to murder him in the palace. Amon’s untimely death at the hands of his servants created a circumstance where his 8 year old son became king. His name was Josiah.

Josiah was much different from his father and grandfather.

He did what was right in the Lord’s sight and walked in all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn to the right or the left.

2 Kings 22:2, CSB

Josiah had great leadership qualities. He had interest in repairing the Lord’s temple. He was interested in seeking the Lord at 16 years. (2 Ch 34). In his 20s he began to act upon his spiritual interests. He had people working for him that he trusted – and who were faithful to him. During the repair of the temple, Hilkiah the high priest discovered the book of law. How far did Judah have to fall that the law of God was discarded and hidden; a lost relic!

When the book was read in the presence of the king, it sparked an immediate response. The king tore his clothes and sent an message to a prophetess named Huldah who lived in Jerusalem. Huldah informed them that their land was on the brink of disaster because of idolatry. She also sent a message of grace to the king:

“Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard …and because you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I myself have heard … I will indeed gather you to your fathers, and you will be
gathered to your grave in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster that I am bringing on this place.”

2 Kings 22:19-20

Josiah made a commitment to keep the commands of the Lord with “all his heart and with all his soul”. The people he led agreed to follow his lead. Josiah goes about demolishing all indications of idolatry and observing the Lord’s Passover for the first time in many years.

Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him.

2 Kings 23:25, CSB

Praying for Spiritual Awareness means praying to have a tender heart that is ready to respond to God immediately.

How can we Cultivating a Tender Heart Toward God?

A Tender Heart Receives the Word of God

Josiah received the Word of God when he heard it. Judah had neglected God’s Word so completely that it was buried under the rubble in a neglected temple. Josiah opened up his heart to hear and receive what was read in his presence. He sent to a prophetess to explain and give him the information he needed to follow God’s path.

Other leaders who encountered God turned away. Exodus 5:2 Pharaoh responded, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him by letting Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” How many in our world respond to God’s Word in that way? What about in the church? What about us?

If we are to keep a tender heart toward God we must not just read / hear but receive the word.

Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 1:21, CSB

A Tender Heart Resolves to be Humble Before God.

Josiah tore his clothes and cried out to God – not a very regal action for a King. At that moment he recognized two things: He recognized his status before the King of the Universe. He recognized his sin before a Righteous God. Humility requires us to see those same two things. Humility says God is Greater and I am Dependent. We like to be independent and overlook our sin. Only when we recognize our dependence and the reality of our fallenness before God can we know the power of humility.

The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.

Psalm 51:17, CSB

The prodigal can always come home, but the tender heart brings him home now. Is that any of us today?

A Tender Heart Remains in Conversation With God.

When Huldah’s message came to Josiah, God speaks through her to let Josiah know “I myself have heard”. God hears – and that is one of the most amazing truths in Bible! When prayer time with God slacks we can remain aloof to our sins. Spending time with God keeps us closer to Him and His presence has a heartwarming effect. Prayer Changes Things! Because of Josiah’s response, God kept him from enduring the coming assault from Assyria and ultimate destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

Conclusion

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”  When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?”

Acts 2:36-37, CSB

Praying for Spiritual Awareness means praying to have a tender heart that is ready to respond to God immediately.
-Receive the Word of God
-Resolve to be Humble before God
-Remain in conversation with God

Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. There re so many things in our world which work to harden our hearts toward God.

Proverbs 4:23, CSB

We’ve been talking about prayers for spiritual awakening …
-Elijah taught us to have a decisive faith.
-Hosea taught us to pray for God’s compassion toward us.
-Isaiah taught us to live in God’s purpose.
-Josiah is teaching us to keep a tender heart toward God.

Charles Finney: What we observe when we see a tender heart:
-An enlargement of grace – accepting His grace we need deeply

-Many tears. “A genuine revival is sure to manifest its power on the heart by many tears.” When have we cried over our sin?
-Unity with all of God’s people. Josiah led a whole nation to be untied under God’s leadership.
-Sympathy with others who remain in sin.
-Forgiveness for those who have been our enemies.
-Confession of our sin, to keep our hearts from being hard.

We must do all we can to avoid having a hard heart toward God. Josiah’s tender heart toward God sparked a revival in his Kingdom. What would happen if we had a tender heart toward God?

  • In our Families – leading those we love back to God!
  • In our Church – greater commitment and strength and witness
  • In our Community – shining the light of the gospel brightly

God we pray for awakening today!

LifeGroup Discussion Questions

  1. What are the things in our lives that commonly lead Christians to have a hard heart towards God?
  2. Josiah came from a lineage of evil idol worshiping kings. How hard is it to break out of systems into which we have been raised and which have great influence over our thinking?
  3. God used Huldah, relatively unknown in the rest of the Bible, to bring a message to Josiah that changed the kingdom. Who is someone that has influenced you tremendously but who is unknown to the rest of the group / church?
  4. Proverbs 4:23 says “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” What advice would you give someone who asked how they could guard their heart?
  5. In the past four weeks we have looked at four Old Testament stories. Which one resonated with you and if you wouldn’t mind, share with the group why it meant something to you.
    -Elijah taught us to have a decisive faith.
    -Hosea taught us to pray for God’s compassion toward us.
    -Isaiah taught us to live in God’s purpose.
    -Josiah is teaching us to keep a tender heart toward God.
  6. What do you admire most about King Josiah?
  7. What else did you see in this text that you wanted to talk about?