Summary: Hezekiah’s amazing answer to prayer, that appeared to change God’s will, shows us sound principles for effective prayer.
HEZEKIAH’S PRAYER SECRETS (2 Kings 20:1-11)
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When life beats you to your knees, says Norman Vincent Peale, that is a good position from which to pray. Hezekiah’s Pastor Isaiah in a strange pastoral visit, said, “Set your house in order, you are going to die.” Given up by the doctors, the clergy and even God, he turned to prayer. The disease was cured. Death was chased away. The earth’ rotation was reversed. And Jerusalem was spared as 185,000 Assyrians died in one night. Hezekiah teaches us to:
A. PRAY BELIEVINGLY.
1. Belief in the Power of God. You say preacher, “Do you really believe God reversed the sun?” I surely do! I say with Dr. Talmadge, “The whole universe waits upon God, and sons and moons and stars are not very big things to Him, and he can with His little finger turn back an entire world as easily as you can set back the minute hand of your watch.”
2. Belief in the Personal Concern of God. Some of us doubt God is interested in our little problems. This miracle says that the untold millions of stars streaking through space are not as important or as precious in the sight of God as one child of God with a need. No star can say, “Our Father,” but I can and you can.
And that is the basis of prayer. The dark pages of life become the best pages because they drive us to our knees. Most of us do not really pray when all is well. We say words. We go through the motions. But in the grip of trouble we do little more than worry on our knees.
Our trouble is we pay only lip service to believing Bible stories like this. It reads, to us, like a fairy tale. Illustration: Reality, to us, is depicted in the cartoon where the little boy, kneeling by his bed, says, “Uncle Herman still doesn’t have a job. Aunt Sally still isn’t married and daddy’s hair keeps falling out. And I’m tired of saying prayers for this family that don’t do any good.”
The tragedy is, when we bump into a few “no” answers we lose our faith in prayer. Some give up prayer altogether. Some reserve their praying for emergency hours. And most of us do not take the time and effort to cultivate the difficult art of learning to pray. All three responses are tragic because they rob our lives of the peace and power and the purpose that can come from God through prayer.
B. PRAY SPECIFICALLY
He did not scatter pious cliches all over heaven. One reason we don’t have answers, is that we do not ask. The Bible says “You do not have because you do not ask.” (Js. 4:2). He wanted one thing and cried out for one thing and that was to live. He asked God for it and he got it. Prayer is just that simple and that powerful. Without prayer he would have died and because of prayer he lived. God has many blessings He wants to give us but we do not get them because we do not ask for them.
One reason we don’t really ask is because we are too lazy. Specific praying takes a great deal of time and effort and that is why we do not do it. When people come for counseling because of messed up lives or homes, the first order of business is to get them to identify their root problem. They can tell you the symptoms easily...”My wife yells and screams...My husband doesn’t pay me any attention...,” but getting down to the why of these symptoms takes time and effort.
The same is true in the Christian life. We must spend time alone with God, listening and learning as He leads us into our own depths and shows us what we really need. It does not take long to say, “Deliver me from worry or overeating or tension or working too much.” But it will take time to get to the root of these problems; to find out why we worry or over-eat or over-work and seek the deliverance we really need.
We also fail to ask God for specific things because we are too proud. The Bible says, “Ask and it will be given you...Let your requests be made known unto God.” (Matt. 6; Phil.4) We give all kinds of reasons for not asking. In fact, many books on prayer actually condemn people like Hezekiah and criticize a prayer like his. We call asking “childish” and say we must use the abilities God has given us to solve our problems. We call asking “selfish” and we say we should fold our hands and accept the inevitable. We call asking “cowardly” and say we should take our medicine without whining. But the real reason we don’t ask is pride. We don’t want to be obliged to our Creator.