In an article last week, I wrote about how our posture or physical position of prayer can be a prayer of itself. This week I came across an interesting example of a physical action in the prayer life of King Hezekiah. In 2 Kings, Hezekiah finds himself on the receiving end of a threatening letter from the King of Assyria, Sennacherib. This militarily powerful king was preparing himself to sack the nation of Judah ruled by Hezekiah. In the letter Hezekiah was specifically warned,
Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed?
–2 Kings 19:10-12
The prophet Isaiah had already assured Hezekiah to be unafraid of Sennacherib. So when Hezekiah received the threatening letter, what did he do?
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…
–2 Kings 19:14-15
Hezekiah had in his hand a troubling document regarding his future and the future of God’s people. He took this document and spread it before the Lord. Read the words of his prayer:
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.
(2 Kings 19:15-19 ESV)
Notice the strong acknowledgment of God and who God is. He might have a threatening letter in front of him, but his focus was clearly on the Lord. He pleads with God to pay attention to the threatening letter. He acknowledges the troubling circumstances. This is a great example to us. While we might be troubled, our focus should be more upon the God who rules all things more than upon what troubles us. Then he makes his request.
Hezekiah’s request was a simple one. He asked to be saved from the hand of Sennacherib. We should be praying a similar prayer. God save us from those people and those things which could destroy us or impede us on our mission.
The Desire for God’s Fame
Please do not miss the end of Hezekiah’s prayer. He was not praying for God’s intervention merely for his own good. That is not reason enough. The ultimate outcome of Hezekiah’s prayer was that God would be famous or be made known to all the kingdoms of the earth as the only God.
For much of my life, my requests have been motivated simply for my own well-being. That might be important, but of ultimate importance is that God is honored and that He is made known. The test for our souls is to determine whether our highest priority in prayer is for us or for God. If God’s purposes are furthered and he is honored through our suffering rather than our lack of suffering, then we should rejoice. Why are we praying?
Do you have something that you need to spread before the Lord? Currently I have a few pieces of paper that represent my concerns in life. I have knelt before God and spread those pieces of paper in front of me before the Lord. I have prayed the best I know that God might intervene in my life in such a way that his name is made known. I am hoping you will join me in this kind of praying.