(Recommended Reading: Isaiah 36 & 37 / Quoted scriptures from NIV)
I believe as Christians we all know, or at least think we know, the importance of prayer. But how seriously do we really take that responsibility? How many pray daily, not only for their family and friends and a few other things they deem important in their life, but also for our leaders, our nation, the world at large?
It is easy to think that we are too small in this great big universe to pray about such important things as world peace and other people near and far in this world that need to know our God. We tend to limit our prayers to our own little corner of the world – me, mine and ours.
We need to remember that the Word of God is full to overflowing of promises given to us by our loving heavenly Father. But we need to have faith enough to claim those promises for our own lives and the lives of others. We must stop being so timid and allowing Satan to fool us into thinking we are powerless to change things.
In his sermon this weekend, my pastor Robert Morris said this: “Satan tells us to look at this world and the horrible things we see in this world and he tries to impugn God’s character. And he says this, ‘If God is good then why did this happen?’” Pastor also said something like this (I am not sure this is a word-for-word quote) “Even when we don’t understand God is still good.”
So my way of thinking is that instead of just accepting the bad and the wrongs around us when we do not understand them, we should be more mindful to pray about them. In faith, we should believe that they can be changed even while Satan tries to tell us differently. One of the best Biblical examples we have for the power of prayer is in Isaiah.
I believe it would be helpful to note here that King Sennacherib and the Assyrian army were one of the strongest militaries in the world; and, they were very adept at using psychological terror to their benefit. They were cruel beyond words to those that did not surrender to them. They would skin them alive; blind them; burn their children; cut off their nose or lip; and, even impale them on stakes. Death would have been much preferred over being captured. So, reading Isaiah 36 where we are told that Judah had been attacked and captured by the Assyrians, and how they now had their eye set on Jerusalem, how frightened the residents of Jerusalem must have been! In Isaiah 36:4-22 you can read the taunts and threats made toward them by the Assyrian King. He even claims that God is the one that told them to attack and destroy Jerusalem (verse 10). That is a perfect example of how our enemy Satan tries to represent and imitate our Almighty God and impugn his character.
So how do you think King Hezekiah reacted to the taunts and threats? Did he weep? Did he begin preparations to just surrender and hope for the best? Did he commit suicide as other nation’s leaders had done rather than face the horrible possibilities? NO! He went to the temple and then sent some of his staff and priests to Isaiah the prophet and asked that he pray for them. In return, Isaiah sent words of encouragement back to the king.
Then King Sennacherib sent a letter to King Hezekiah with more threats. Now what did Hezekiah do? Isaiah 37:14-15 tells us “Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord.” Hezekiah was bold. He laid out the letter before God then reminded Him of whom He is and what He can do – it was a short to-the-point prayer. He did not wail and beat his breast and beg. He just spoke the obvious then simply asked God to rescue them, in a way that He revealed power and confirmed His position as the one and only true God.
“Hezekiah believed God’s promise to save. But Hezekiah did more than believe. He prayed…He knew however that there’s a difference between the promise of God and the execution of the promise. The promise was given to provoke faith. Prayer…was the natural response.” Chris Tiegreen
We then read in 37:21a one of the most powerful of verses “Then Isaiah…sent a message to Hezekiah: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria..’”
Reading on we see that through Isaiah, God verbally beats down King Sennacherib and the Assyrian army. Verses 33-35 reveal to Hezekiah how things will go for them – as a result of his prayer of faith; and, verse 36 tells us it was accomplished in such a way that no one but God could claim the victory – “Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!”
Our prayers, spoken in faith, based on God’s promises will produce results. We may not always see instant results, but that is no reason to give up. Keep praying – persist – as the widow did in the story Jesus told in Luke 18:1-8. The results may not always be the resolution we thought best or expected, but does God not know best?
We are told in Philippians 4:6-7 that we should not worry about anything but should pray about everything. Just tell Him what you need and be sure to thank Him for the answer, in faith believing. Then, just sit back, relax and enjoy His peace. James 5:16b says “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
“God in His infinite wisdom has decided that some things will only happen when people intercede by prayer. Can we really afford not to pray?” Mary Kane
“God chooses simple people of faith to bring His victory by prayer.” John Piper
We would all be well served to thoroughly study all the promises of God – then pray accordingly. Our prayers should be bold. We should lay them out before Him, claim them and believe for them, because God’s promises are a call to prayer.
Written by Karran Martin – September 8, 2019
Note: If you would like to know more about the Assyrian military, you can read this article that explains much about them: https://listverse.com/2016/12/07/10-horrors-of-being-invaded-by-the-assyrian-army/