Summary: When spiritual exhaustion strikes, we fail to pray. It means that we have not dealt with our control issues, and we compromise principle to save ourselves. But God will give us a sign of His presence, even when we do not ask.
There is a weariness of heart that goes so deep, it puts us in danger of losing our souls. There is an exhaustion of the soul that goes so far inside us that, if someone does not do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, we wiII be lost in despair. There is a weariness of heart, an exhaustion of the soul.
All of us have heard of people who refuse to pray until they get so desperate that prayer is the only thing left. All of us have seen that some folks treat God as if He were the answer of last resort; folks who wait until their last dollar is gone and they are about to be evicted before they think to ask the Lord for any help. Folks who fight and squabble and let things come to a boil before they invite Christ to reconcile. You’ve known them and so have I.
But I want today to suggest that there is another and a deeper issue. There is another spiritual disease that is even more deadly. There is a weariness of heart that goes so deep, it puts us in danger of losing our souls, because our very weariness makes prayer seem useless. There is an exhaustion of the soul that goes so far inside us that, if someone does not do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, we will be lost in despair. We will be too weary to get out. To put it in a nutshell, it’s possible to be "too pooped to pray." Too pooped to pray.
Two men and a boy made their way to the city’s edge one day. The two men were very different. One of them was quite young, only twenty years old, but with an awesome responsibility. His personality drove to be an achiever. But it also drove him to frustration. He was the kind of person who had to do everything himself, he had to be in charge. And it was killing him. It was destroying him spiritually and emotionally. He was on the verge of exhaustion, too pooped to pray.
The other man was more mature. He’d been around for a while, he’d seen a few things. Holding his small son’s hand, he walked alongside the younger man and tried to encourage him. He tried to speak about the long look. Don’t worry about today’s problems, he said. They are going to go away. Bad as it may look, just stay the course, wait. Don’t do anything rash, don’t make any foolish moves, just wait.
The year was 735 before Christ. The younger man was Ahaz, King of Judah. He had come to the throne in Jerusalem at a very awkward time. His grandfather, Uzziah, had reigned for forty years, and so great was Uzziah’s statesmanship, so formidable his reputation, that all the rival powers just left him alone. But when Uzziah died, other nations began to buzz like bees in a bonnet, and trouble appeared on the horizon. Uzziah’s son Jotham had held them off for a while, but death cut his reign short. So Jotham’s twenty-year old son, Ahaz, came to power just as, far to the north, the Assyrian Empire was asserting itself. Nearer at hand, the kingdoms of Syria and Israel were forming an alliance to resist Assyria. These small kingdoms, Syria and Israel, wanted Judah to join them against the imperial power. King Jotham, and King Uzziah before him, had worried about Egypt to the south, and they realized that any such alliance might leave them open to attack from that direction. So they had pursued a policy of neutrality. They had stayed out of the fight.
One of the main reasons they had stayed out of the fight was the other man standing on the city’s edge that day. The prophet Isaiah had preached for a long time that Judah should stay out of entangling alliances. Isaiah had argued forcefully that God would intervene, God would protect the descendants of David, God was their hope. Isaiah’s preaching had kept Judah from a destructive alliance. So far, so good.
But now, these two men had gone together to the water supply to check it out, because the armies of Israel and Syria were right outside the city walls, and young Ahaz was not so sure about Isaiah’s preaching. King Ahaz could stand on the heights and look out over the valley and see those armies camped out there. That looked a whole lot more real to him than Isaiah’s word that
therefore thus says the Lord GOD: It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass.
Ahaz wasn’t that sure. Ahaz was afraid. Ahaz was frustrated, Ahaz was tired, Ahaz was on the point of exhaustion. So Isaiah offered one more opportunity.