Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh even his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are among the records of the kings of Israel. 2 Chronicles 33:18 NASB
Manasseh – Manasseh was one of the most wicked kings of Israel. God holds him accountable for idolatry, the shedding of innocent blood, abuse of power, seduction of the people, rebuilding the temples of false gods, sacrificing his child to idols, consorting with mediums and sorcerers and doing evil in the sight of the Lord. He ruled for fifty-five years; years of abominations before YHWH. We would be hard pressed to find a more despicable and immoral example of an Israelite king.
M’nashe (the Hebrew name Manasseh) is Mem-Nun-Shin-Hey. “Behold, Chaos Consuming Life.” That pretty much describes the kingdom under the reign of M’nashe. That’s why the prayer of Manasseh is so startling.
You’ve never read this prayer in the Bible. Chronicles only tells us that such a prayer existed once a long time ago. A prayer attributed to Manasseh is found in the extra-biblical literature called the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Why it isn’t included in the canon is a longer story. It probably wasn’t written by Manasseh but it might be based on something Manasseh said. Even if it is not Manasseh’s actual words, this prayer sheds light on something amazing. Of course, this prayer doesn’t remove the judgment YHWH brought upon Israel and we don’t know if it changed anything about M’nashe, but the fact that the most wicked man in Israel could have said these things proclaims God’s unending work of restoration and God’s unending love for His creatures.
Here is the prayer. Take note how much this ancient prayer fits today’s world, perhaps even the life of someone you know very well. If we didn’t know that this is attributed to Israel’s most wicked king, wouldn’t we think it was about us?
The Prayer of Manasseh
O Lord, God of our fathers,
God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their righteous offspring;
He who made the heavens and the earth
with all their beauty;
He who bound the sea
and established it by the command of his word,
he who closed the bottomless pit
and sealed it by his powerful and glorious name;
You (before) whom all things fear and tremble;
(especially) before your power.
Because your awesome magnificence
cannot be endured;
none can endure or stand before
your anger and your fury against sinners;
But unending and immeasurable
are your promised mercies;
Because you are the Lord,
long-suffering, merciful, and greatly compassionate;
and you feel sorry over the evils of men.
You, O Lord, according to your gentle grace,
promised forgiveness to those who repent of their sins,
and in your manifold mercies
appointed repentance for sinners as the (way to) salvation.
You, therefore, O Lord, God of the righteous,
did not appoint grace for the righteous,
such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
those who did not sin against you;
but you appointed grace for me, (I) who am a sinner.
Because my sins exceeded the number of the sand(s) of the sea,
and on account of the multitude of my iniquities,
I have no strength to lift up my eyes.
And now, O Lord, I am justly afflicted,
and I am deservedly harassed;
already I am ensnared.
And I am bent by many iron chains,
so that I cannot lift up my head;
for I do not deserve to lift up my eyes
and look to see the height of heaven,
because of the gross iniquity of my wicked deeds,
because I did evil things before you,
and provoked your fury,
and set up idols and multiplied impurity.
And now behold I am bending the knees of my heart before you;
and I am beseeching your kindness.
I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned;
and certainly know my sins.
I beseech you;
forgive me, O Lord, forgive me!
Do not destroy me with my transgressions;
do not be angry against me forever;
do not remember my evils;
and do not condemn me and banish me to the depths of the earth!
For you are the God of those who repent.
In me you will manifest all your grace;
and although I am not worthy,
you will save me according to your manifold mercies.
Because of this (salvation) I shall praise you continually
all the days of my life;
Because all the hosts of heaven praise you,
and sing to you forever and ever.
Topical Index: prayer, Manasseh, pseudepigrapha, 2 Kings 21:10-11, 2 Chronicles 33:18