Prayer is an important and a vital part of Christian living. To a person who is born again, prayer is as essential as breathing. It really determines your life and relationship with the Lord God Almighty. To neglect prayer can result in weakness and defeat. It is of supreme importance that we as Christians must pray. Not as a daily chore, or a works type of prayer, but to have a prayer life that comes from within the heart because of your love for God and because of your hunger and thirst for more of God in your life.
C.H. Spurgeon said that, “The heart of prayer is the prayer of the heart.” Prayer does not simply consist of words, gestures, forms or eloquence, but prayer is when a person comes humbly into the presence of God, knowing that he is not worthy to be in the presence of the Almighty God, the great creator and loving Father in Heaven, but knowing that he has been saved by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ, and now has a heart to have a relationship and commune with the “One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:” (Isaiah 57:15)
There are many reasons why prayer is of supreme importance in the life of a Christian.
- Prayer is given in the word of God: There is great emphasis on the subject of prayer in the word of God and this in itself indicates its importance and value. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
- Jesus taught us to pray and said in Matthew 21:22 “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
- Prayer is the vital breath in our born again life. Our new life can only be sustained by prayer. Without prayer we can become lifeless and ineffective. This means we should pray privately, frequently, regularly, in times of trouble and without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray without ceasing”. We must have a prayer lifestyle.
- It is a great privilege to pray. Prayer to us must be the greatest privileges of all. There is no greater privilege than to enter into the holiest of all, into the throne room of the king, and to bow in humble worship at His feet, to speak to Him face to face. How great is this amazing privilege?
- Through prayer all our needs are supplied. Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
- Its only through prayer that God’s will be accomplished. The Bible tells us that God fulfills His purposes and working through our asking. James 5:17 says “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.” The purpose of prayer is not for God to alter His will, but to provide Him with a channel through which He may accomplish His will.
Let us look at the prayer life of King Hezekiah to understand and learn how we can be effective in our prayer life and how we can come before the Lord in prayer.
1. King Hezekiah’s Prayer
2 Kings 19:14-19 “Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said: “O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.””
What we see here is that Hezekiah, King of Judah, had received a letter from Sennacherib denouncing the Lord. The king of Assyria, which was a much more powerful nation, made plans to overthrow Hezekiah’s kingdom. They kept taunting the kingdom of Hezekiah and throwing threats towards him and the kingdom. Finally they sent a letter by messenger to Hezekiah, which basically was saying, that the Assyrians are a strong and mighty army and the Kingdom of Judah is next on their list. They ridiculed all the gods of the other nations, and also ridiculed the God of Israel.
It was a credible, realistic threat and King Hezekiah had every reason to be afraid. We can see here that King Hezekiah is at a real crisis point. He’s got two choices to make, and many of us in difficult situations are often posed with these two decisions to be made. You can either be driven away from God or be driven to him. You can either look into the world and the wisdom of the word for answers or your can be driven even deeper into the Lords embrace.
It could have been very easy for Hezekiah to seek the wisdom of his counselors, or to go to his army chiefs, to seek worldly council on how they could devise a plan to overcome this great enemy who is ready to destroy them. Or even at worst, he could have possibly thought of surrendering to the enemy.
King Hezekiah did none of this, but his first reaction was to go directly to the living God Himself. Hezekiah’s choice was wise and he decided to run to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to the one who is mighty to save.
Lets look at the following some things that outlines his prayer before the LORD.
1 He got alone with God:
The first thing King Hezekiah did when he read the letter was to get alone with God and immediately. Some of the most effective prayer time of your life will be the time you invest alone with God.
In fact Jesus Himself showed us by example that it is important and vital to spend time alone with God and be in a habit of continuously entering His presence from where you will receive nourishment.
When Jesus started His ministry, it was only after spending 40 days alone in the desert with God the Father. This was His preparation time, a time alone with God, a time where He could hear the voice of God and to be still in His presence. A time to listen to the council of God and for strength that would launch Him into His calling and ministry for which He came into the world.
Similarly, God has a calling upon your life. That is why you have received salvation and why Christ has been revealed to your hearts. In order for you to live according to Gods calling and election, you must spend alone time with God. For Him to teach you, strengthen you and to build a strong, unshakable relationship with the Lord Almighty, you must know Him personally and closer than anybody else in your life.
2 A prayer that started by praising God
In 2 Kings 19:15 it says “And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: “O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.”
Hezekiah knew his place as king but he also knew God’s place as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hezekiah was a king of a nation, but God was creator and king over all things whether in heaven or earth, whether things that can be seen or the unseen. He is sovereign almighty God, Jehovah who is worthy of every praise and all glory.
Hezekiah came before the Lord in honor, in humbleness and with reverence of who God is. With his mouth he praised and worshiped the Lord, giving Him all the praise that is due to Him.
This is how Jesus taught us to pray as well. In Matthew 6:9 it says “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
In this modal prayer that Jesus taught us, he is saying that when we begin our prayer before God, we must do so by praising Him and worshiping Him.
Now why should we begin our prayer with praise and worship to God? We should do so because it takes the focus of ourselves and puts the focus solely on God and by that we can begin to talk to God, and not just simply talk at Him.
When we praise God, we are thanking God for who he is and what He is. It means to value Him, to esteem Him, to magnify Him, to glorify Him, to declare the character of God, it is declaring His might and power and sovereignty over all things. Praising is declaring how good God is and that he must be honored and that allows us to enter His presence in humbleness and in awe of who God is and to know into whose presence we are entering.
3 Hezekiah’s prayer was with confidence
In 2 Kings 19:16 Hezekiah says “Incline your ear, O LORD , and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God.”
In the same way as King Hezekiah came before the Lord in such boldness, we too must be able to come before the Lord with such confidence because of our relationship with the Lord. First we need to examine our prayer lives before God. Do we have such a relationship with God that you can run to him first, and speak out your mind to Him?
In 1 John 5:14-15 it says “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
When we pray it should be in such a manner that it should be as though you are talking to Jesus face to face, knowing that you are in His presence. The less that you or me sense His presence the less bold or confident you become. They key to this, is “right relationship” with Jesus Christ. Not just knowing about Him, but knowing Him personally closer than whoever is the closest person in your life. It must be a radical relationship with God, where you are in constant communication with Him. When you come into such a position in your relation with the Lord and when the word of God is in your heart you will know your confidence in the Lord because you will:
- Have confidence that God hears your prayers (Micah 7:7 says “But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”)
- You will have confidence because you obey scriptures (Psalm 119:173 says “Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.”)
- You will have confidence because you are commanded to do so (Ephesians 6:18 says “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”)
- You will have confidence because we know that He is able to do beyond what we ask or request (Ephesians 3:20 says “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”)
4 Hezekiah’s prayer was dependent and certain
In this situation Hezekiah knew he was out of his league facing the Assyrians. He knew the reality of the situation around him, and he didn’t try to minimize the scale of the opponent he was against. He went before the Lord with his honest thought and poured his heart out to the Lord, displaying that he was totally dependent on the LORD in this situation.
In 2 Kings 19: 17-18 he says “Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed.”
King Hezekiah is proclaiming to the Lord, that it is true that the Assyrians have laid waste to the lands and have cast their man made gods into the fire. What we see here is the Hezekiah comes to the Lord, humbled and in all his weakness. He cannot do it in his strength, but he knows that he can fully trust God, because he is not like the gods of everyone else, but Yahweh is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Hezekiah then continues to pray in v19 saying “So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.”
Hezekiah had the kind of faith that allowed him to pray with confidence, being completely dependent on God and certain that God would save them. Not only that but his ultimate goal was through the answer of his prayer, God Almighty will be known as the only true God and all glory and praise be directed to Him. If the Kingdom of Judah is captured like every other land, there will be no difference from the other man made gods. But Hezekiah is pleading, “Lord distinguish yourself, by distinguishing us”, so that the whole world will know and be made to confess, that you alone are God, the self-existent, sovereign, mighty God.
Notice that the most powerful prayers are those that bring glory and honor to God and according to His will. Just like the “Lord’s Prayer” taught to us by Jesus. It begins with “Hallowed be your name”, and this must be the ultimate goal in everything we do, to bring glory to him in our every word and deed.
Examine your prayer life today, and consider whether what you pray for, are the things that bring glory and honor to God? Is God your first point of contact or do you run to someone else or something else, and coming to God is when all other options are exhausted?
He must be first in all things, and then you will see His work performed in your life.
God responds to this simple yet powerful prayer that King Hezekiah prayed. But what we must understand is that even though King Hezekiah was a man of great faith, this particular situation rattled him. It shows that even such great men of God are also fallible and just human like us.
Elijah was another great man of God, a mighty and courageous prophet. But even this courageous prophet once feared Jezebel and ran from her presence to hide himself. Elijah then recovered from this fear when the angel of the Lord comforted him. After that the voice of the Lord came to him, and it came to him not in a strong wind or in the earthquake, or fire but in a small still voice that said “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9-14)
Likewise King Hezekiah also recovered from the fear of the situation he was in because he chose not to listen to the voices around him that could discourage him and bring him down from trusting God completely and ultimately allowing the situation around him to determine if God can help him or not. Instead Hezekiah chose to bow in the presence of the LORD. He rent his clothes, covered himself in sackcloth and went to the LORD for help.
We see God respond through the prophet Isaiah in 2 King 2:20-21 saying “Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.””
God had heard his prayer. Note when Hezekiah began his prayer, he said in v15 “…O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the Cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.”
This is when you begin to see that Hezekiah came to God in a state of complete humbleness and dependence on God. Proclaiming that He alone is God and there is none other. He alone is sovereign and mighty, and it is in the God of Israel that he is going to put his trust in.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where it seems absolutely impossible? You may see yourself as a strong Christian and have a strong relationship with the LORD. But in the situation you are in right now, fear has overtaken you, just like it did to King Hezekiah and Elijah, great men of God.
What is going to be your response? Come to the throne room of God, bring yourself into His presence and sit at his feet and bring to him all your supplications and requests. Humble yourself in the presence God and acknowledge that He alone can do all things. It is He alone that can change your situation. When you take your trust of the world, from the wisdom of this world, from the discouragement of this world and put it solely on Jesus Christ, then this is where your victory will be. In your weakness and in your situation, the glory of God will be revealed. Praise God.
We read in 2 Kings 19:35 “And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when the people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.”
God had answered supernaturally and all king Hezekiah had to do was to allow God to bring the victory. He did not have to do anything but to have complete trust and faith in God Almighty. And in this way all glory and praise was to the LORD.
Today, allow God to work in your situation. Trust in the LORD, and not in your strength. God is our rock and refuge and He helps us in all situations, whether they be small or difficult situations when we seek His help.
Psalms 94:22 says “But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock my refuge.”
Rod Edmondson (Bible Study Tools: “7 Thoughts for More Effective Prayer”)