So often in the Christian life, prayer can be relegated to the back burner and viewed as a type of last-resort approach to solving one’s problems. Thoughts such as, “Well, I’ve tried everything else to solve this situation; I guess I should pray,” become prevalent. In America and first-world countries like it, the desire to become self-sufficient has a tendency to work its way into the heart of man. In every city, there is a hospital, so who really needs to pray for healing? In every fridge, there is food, so why pray that the Lord would give us our daily bread? Behind all the prosperity, there is a danger that is lurking that must be recognized. Man needs God, and there are battles that are being waged both within and without the heart of man that can only be won through prayer.
What are you facing?
The question is not whether or not you have a battle that you are facing. Rather, the question is, what is the battle that you are facing?
Some of you may be dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction that has been plaguing you for years. You have sought help multiple times, only to fail time and time again. Some of you may be dealing with a challenging relationship that seems to have no hope of reconciliation. Others may look inward and find that their hearts are not as good as they want them to be. They may recognize their ongoing battles with the sin that still remains and often lose hope that anything will ever get better. Finally, some of you may be dealing with extreme financial concerns that make it hard to sleep and make it difficult to control your anxiety or temper.
What was Hezekiah facing?
Assyria was known as a power house in the Old Testament. The Assyrians were brutal, and they prided themselves for destroying their enemies. They would strike fear in their adversaries as word would spread of their devastating victories.
In Isaiah chapter 36, the odds are stacked against Judah and King Hezekiah. Prior to this event, the Assyrians had invaded the Northern Kingdom and totally wiped them off the map. The king of Judah knew that the Assyrians had led to the downfall of their Jewish relatives.
As the story goes, the King of Assyria sends a vast army with a high-ranking military officer known as a Rabshakeh to the city of Judah. Enclosed within the walls of Judah are the Jews and their king. On the walls, the people of Judah can see what may have been the largest army they have ever seen approaching their gates. They were in a war, and the odds were stacked against them. Nobody was able to withstand the might of the Assyrians. The situation must have looked hopeless.
The cries of command coming out of the mouth of the Rabshakeh were to submit to the rule of the king of Assyria or suffer great loss. So often, this can be the subtle voice that is heard from the enemy as the fight seems impossible. Giving up seems to be an easy and popular choice rather than fighting for the Lord’s glory. However, the Jews were called to fight, and they were called to fight in the Lord’s strength.
What did Hezekiah do?
At the end of Isaiah chapter 36, the recorder went to King Hezekiah and told him what the Rabshakeh had said. At this point, the king could have admitted defeat and bowed the knee to the king of Assyria. King Hezekiah could have also abruptly responded by readying his troops for battle. He also could have responded by gathering in his own war generals and counselors to gain insight as to how to win the battle. However, the Scriptures show us the great example of Hezekiah in how he chooses to respond to this news.
“And it came to pass, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he … went into the house of the Lord” (Is. 37:1).
Hezekiah is said to have immediately turned to God. Not a second was wasted before he approached the King of kings. The Rabshakeh continued to make attempts to lead Hezekiah to giving up the fight. He reminded Hezekiah in a letter of all the other battles that the Assyrians had won and the seemingly ridiculous nature of believing that they could be overcome.
Hezekiah brings this letter before the Lord and spreads it out in His presence. Hezekiah pleads with God to fight the battle for him. He cries out for God to deliver him. He trusts that God is for His people. God answers Hezekiah’s prayer. The Lord sends out a destroying angel through the camp of the Assyrians and kills 185,000 in a single night.
What does this mean for me?
Hezekiah’s example and the events that transpired are a great reminder to turn to God in prayer, as well as a reminder of the ways in which God will fight for His people. It would seem difficult to find someone who could say that they are facing a greater impossibility than the Jews defeating the Assyrians. As a result, this story is one that can give you hope and faith in the midst of your current situation by reminding you that God is able to do the impossible.
God will fight for you each day. God will deliver you each day. God will help you each day. However, just like Hezekiah, you must present your problems, fears, worries, anxieties, situations, and circumstances before Him – spread them out through prayer.
Father, I thank You that You are a God Who hears my prayers. I know I don’t pray enough and often trust in myself more than I trust in You. Please help me to trust in You more and to look to You for my deliverance each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen