I really enjoy studying the Bible, especially using the inductive bible study method. However, prayer is not something I feel very disciplined in. I have a good friend who is committed to prayer. I asked her how to get better at praying. She suggested choosing a prayer trigger (like water), so every time I saw this thing, it would remind me to pray. I did choose water, especially because we lived near a lake at the time. I asked the Holy Spirit to remind me to pray every time I saw water (any kind of water). It really helped to have a trigger. Somehow I got out of the habit, so I need to begin again.
Prayer is on my mind today. I finally got through the Isaiah Part 1 study and these verses were a great reminder about prayer.
Isaiah 37:14-22 “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: ‘Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.
It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.’
Then Isaiah son of Amoz 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, this is the word the Lord has spoken against him…”
1. Hezekiah received some distressing news. So what did he do?
2. He laid this news before the Lord and prayed. He prayed, demonstrating dependence of God’s wisdom and perspective. He acknowledged who God is (LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, God over all the kingdoms of the earth) and asked for deliverance.
3. God answered Hezekiah (via the prophet Isaiah- that’s how it was done then) and dealt with the situation according to His will.
|Sweet gift and reminder from a thoughtful friend.|
It is amazing that when we pray God hears, sees, and listens. I also find it amazing that Hezekiah prayed (for deliverance) “so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, LORD, are the only God.”
These two points are worth hovering over for a minute.
God hears, sees and listens. So, be encouraged! Prayer is communication with an active and powerful God. Through His Son, Jesus, we can come before Him and ask for His help.
The other point is really an exhortation and important reminder shown through Hezekiah’s prayer… When we pray, are we ultimately praying for God’s will or for our own benefit alone? Are we praying that He will answer in a way that will make all the kingdoms of the earth know that He is God, alone?
Convicting, I know.
I will close with two personal examples about praying this way. Don’t get the wrong idea…I often pray really selfishly. But, through our Waiting Time with our adoption, we prayed for God’s will to be done. Whenever a birthmom looked at our family profile we prayed that she would clearly recognize which family she should chose. Of course we wanted to be the family chosen, but only if it was best for the child and for us. Time after time, month after month, we were not the family chosen. That was really hard. But, there was peace, knowing that God had answered our prayers. It seemed that each birthmom was drawn to a specific family (and that is what we had prayed about).
Then, there was yesterday. Our friends had high hopes of moving to a wonderful new place. New job, fresh start. We were already thinking how great it would be to visit them there someday. We prayed that if this job was God’s will, then He would open the door wide open and make His will clear. But, if it was not His will, than He would close the door shut. We were all hoping the door would be open- wide open like the wide open spaces they would move to.
But, it wasn’t. It was a shut door. That was really hard.
My heart is heavy with this news, BUT, let’s revisit Hezekiah. Like him, our friends laid our their prayer to God- acknowledging His Lordship; requesting His wisdom and perspective. He heard, He saw, He listened and He answered; dealing with the situation according to His will. In Hezekiah’s case there was deliverance. In our friends’ case, a “No”.
In both situations God answered. Through pain there can be peace in answered prayer.
The Lord sees from a different perspective; a Heavenly, beyond-time-and-space kind of perspective. Even when we do not understand the reasons “why”, we can trust the One who is Almighty, El Roi, Faithful and True.
1. What do you need to lay out before the Lord in prayer today? Take some time right now to do just that.
2. When you pray, do you pray as Hezekiah did? Why or why not? I challenge you to start your prayers with praise and end with “Thy will be done” (exhorting myself here too), so that the kingdoms of the earth will know that You, LORD, are the only God.
Consider joining me on a She Reads Truth study on prayer (for 21 days, starting tomorrow, June 15). I have never done one of these studies before, but my friend Abby has (see her testimonial here). Although I have chosen the April study to do, I thought it was quite fitting to study prayer, as an postlude to this post. Let me know if you are going to do it; let’s encourage each other!