This morning’s Old Testament reading recounts the story of Assyria’s threat against Judah. It seemed that Judah was hopeless. But Hezekiah, having received the threat from the king of Assyria through the words of his servant Rabshakeh, went to pray. The content of his prayer was direct:
- You are the God, you alone (Is. 37:16)
- Incline Your ear (Is. 37:17)
- Deliver us from his hand (Is. 37:20)
And then in response, this message comes to Hezekiah from God, through the mouth of the prophet, Isaiah:
“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria…'” (v. 21)
Because Hezekiah prayed, God answered. He really prayed and God really answered. And how well did God answer? The angel of the Lord slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. The Assyrian army was decimated and the king had no choice but to return home.
This is the action of a prayer hearing God. He loves to respond to the needs of His people and answer their requests. Now we cannot assume that He will always answer all our requests in such dramatic fashion, but we can take comfort from this story in the fact that God hears the prayers of the righteous (Js. 5:16) and loves to answer those prayers.
So how’s your prayer life? Do you pray?
We typically aren’t bashful to let God know what we (think we) need. We don’t lack for instruction (both Biblical and not) about how to pray. But have you ever considered the simple question WHY? Why pray?
At the turn of the century, R. A. Torrey in his book How to Pray answered this question, “why is prayer so important?” Here are ten of his reasons, which supplement what we’ve already seen in Isaiah 37:
- Because there is a devil and because prayer is the God-appointed means of resisting him (Mt. 6:13; Lk. 22:40).
- Because prayer is God’s way for us to obtain what we need from Him — a day at a time (Mt. 6:11).
- Because the apostles, whom God set forth to be a pattern for us, considered prayer to be the most important business of their lives (Phil. 1:3-5; Col. 1:3; Eph. 6:18-20).
- Because prayer occupied a prominent place and played a very important part in the earthly life of our Lord (Mk. 1:35).
- Because prayer is the most important part of the present ministry of our Lord, since He is now interceding for us (Heb. 7:25).
- Because prayer is the means God has appointed for our receiving mercy from Him and of obtaining grace to help m time of need (Heb. 4:16).
- Because prayer is the means of obtaining the fullness of God’s joy (John 16:24).
- Because prayer with thanksgiving is the means of obtaining freedom from anxiety and, in anxiety’s place, that peace which passes understanding (Phil. 4:6).
- Because prayer is the means by which we are to keep watchful and be alert at Christ’s return (1 Thess. 5:6ff).
- Because prayer is used by God to promote our spiritual growth, bring power into our work, lead others to faith in Christ, and bring all other blessings to Christ’s church (Col. 4:2; Mt. 6:9-13; Phil. 1:9-11).
Why pray? Because, “If man is man and God is God, to live without prayer is not merely an awful thing: it is an infinitely foolish thing.” [Phillips Brooks.]