God Responds to Prayer
"And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD." (2 Kings 19:15a)
Hezekiah had good reason to pray! Hezekiah was the King of Judah. Maybe you've heard of Judah: it was a small nation, the only two tribes left over from the Twelve Tribes of Israel. And Hezekiah, King of Judah, had a problem: he was an enemy of the pagan king of Assyria, Sennacherib (pronounced sen-AK-er-rib). Assyria back then was a little like America is today: the strongest nation on earth. And the nation of Judah was like one of those tiny countries you see on a map so small that nobody remembers the name of. In other words, King Hezekiah was no match for King Sennacherib.
Because Hezekiah and Sennacherib were enemies, Sennacherib brought his forces down to do battle against Hezekiah and the Kingdom of Judah. Sennacherib fought hard, and his armies defeated a lot of Judean towns. Hezekiah became frightened. So instead of relying on God, he sent money some of it was God's money to Sennacherib, trying to buy him off!
Well, Sennacherib didn't just want money. He wanted to humiliate Hezekiah in the capital city, Jerusalem. So Sennacherib sent messenger boys to Hezekiah, announcing that Sennacherib would defeat God's people if they resisted him.
What could Hezekiah do? He'd already sent money to Sennacherib, but Sennacherib wasn't satisfied. Hezekiah was so upset that he tore his clothes and went to the temple of the Lord. Instead of sending more money to the wicked king Sennacherib, Hezekiah sent word to Isaiah, the prophet of God, asking what to do. Isaiah sent back word not to worry, since God would take care of Hezekiah's problem with Sennacherib.
When Sennacherib heard what Isaiah had said, he sent a letter to Hezekiah, repeating his threats. Hezekiah grew very upset again. This time, he didn't send money to the wicked king, and he didn't even call on God's prophet. Instead, he spread out the letter on the ground and prayed to God.
After Hezekiah had pled with God for help, God sent word by the prophet Isaiah saying that God had heard Hezekiah's prayer. In Isaiah 37:21, God says that because Hezekiah had prayed, He would rise up against Sennacherib and defeat him. Soon afterwards, God miraculously killed 125,000 of Sennacherib's troops, and Sennacherib returned home to Assyria without ever fighting against Hezekiah. Eventually, two of Sennacherib's sons assassinated him while he prayed to his false god.
You've probably noticed that the story of Hezekiah and Sennacherib is complicated. You can read the whole thing in 2 Kings 18-19 and Isaiah 36-37. Each version of the story gives details that the other one doesn't mention. When Isaiah tells the story, he makes the point that this devotional is making: it wasn't until Hezekiah himself prayed to God that God defeated Sennacherib.
Was it bad for Hezekiah to ask advice from God's prophet, Isaiah? Of course not! And when Hezekiah asked advice, God promised to help. But it wasn't until Hezekiah himself prayed that God actually struck down Sennacherib's army. God had planned to fight against Sennacherib, but He waited to do it until after Hezekiah asked Him to do it. God wants His people to bring their concerns to Him and to rely on Him to do His will.
When you face difficult circumstances, it's not good to try working things out on your own, as Hezekiah did when he paid money to Sennacherib. It is good to ask advice from older, more mature Christians like your teachers, parents, and pastors. But that's not enough! You should ask God for help. God wants to hear your prayers, and He wants to show His power in response to your prayers.
God powerfully responds to the prayers of His people.
» When I face difficulties, do I try working things out on my own? Or do I pray for God's direction and help so that I'll know how to respond?
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