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A Beautiful Confidence

June 6, 2015

I am away today and so I’m sharing the WordLive offering for Friday. I have recently read this Old Testament story and great prayer in my own study time and it has certainly done me no harm to consider these lessons in prayer again. I cannot ever imagine having a dilema as terrifying as that faced by Hezekiah but I pray that I will be given the confidence in the will of God shown here – Enjoy!

The WordLive Bible study is copied below but you can also read this on the WordLive website here: https://www.wordlive.org/Session/Classic/2015-06-05 or listen to most of it being read to you here: http://www.wordlive.org/uploads/wordlight/resources/WORDLIVE%205.6.15.mp3

Prepare

When was the last time your specific prayers were answered? Can’t remember? Think about this as you read today’s passage.

Bible passage: 2 Kings 19:1–19

2 Kings 19
Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold
1 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the point of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 It may be that the LORD your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the LORD your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.”
5 When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! I am going to put such a spirit in him that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’ ”

8 When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah.

9 Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the Cushite king of Egypt , was marching out to fight against him. So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: 10 “Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’ 11 Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my forefathers deliver them: the gods of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, or of Hena or Ivvah?”

Hezekiah’s Prayer
14 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. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD : “O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.
17 “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands. 19 Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Explore the Bible
Desperate and afraid
It seems that Hezekiah’s faith was tested (v 1). Desperate and afraid, as a last resort he consults Isaiah the prophet, hoping that God might intervene (vs 2–4). Hezekiah should have gone there first! Isaiah has the demeanour of one who knows exactly how this fight will end (vs 5–7). His calm words of prophecy still the panic-stricken Hezekiah.
Meanwhile, Sennacherib has a few problems of his own. Hoping for a quick and battle-free conquest, the news that another front is about to erupt (v 9) begins to make him desperate too. His personal threat to Hezekiah reminding him what happened to all the kings who stood in his way (v 13) is calculated to have Hezekiah throw open the gates.

New-found courage
This could have been the last straw for Hezekiah, already terrified and weary. But with new-found courage, he heads to the Temple and lays the whole blasphemous threat out before God (v 14).

Can you see the difference this action makes? I can imagine Hezekiah praying all the way through this event, probably without much hope; but his prayer this day is laden with conviction and authority. Hezekiah has recovered his trust in God, and that trust breeds expectant hope (v 19)!

Respond
It makes a massive difference if we approach God expectant and confident when faced with troubles. Think about challenges you face today and pray them through like Hezekiah did at the Temple.
David Tolputt

Deeper Bible study
The clever speech of Sennacherib’s officials (2 Kings 18:28–35) goes too far in ridiculing and blaspheming Judah’s living God (v 22) and so the battle lines are clearly drawn. The result is the Assyrian king’s untimely death (vs 36, 37). In the meantime Hezekiah has every reason to worry. Does his worry show a lack of trust? No, because of what he does with it, spreading it out before the Lord (v 14) seeking his reply through the prophet (v 2). Unlike most previous kings, Hezekiah is choosing to rely on the Lord and he gets a response (v 20). God always delights in hearing his people pray.
At its simplest, prayer is the cry of children to their father. As maturing disciples there is much we can learn about how to pray. Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer to teach us (Matthew 6:9–13). Hezekiah’s prayer is another instructive example. First, the way he addresses God (v 15) – we do not presume to enter lightly into God’s holy presence. Next the request (vs 16–19a) – we should be specific but leave it to God to give us what is for our good. We need not be afraid about the outcome. Our trust is in his goodness, not in getting what we ask for. Finally, the result (v 19b) – ‘so that’ is an additional clarifying step. We are not trying to persuade a reluctant judge, but making sure in our own heart we are asking for the right reasons. God hears us whether or not we have all the arguments right, but examination of our motives in his presence is part of our relationship. Thankfully, ‘the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans’ (Romans 8:26).

Just as Hezekiah didn’t know in advance how God would answer his prayer and fulfil the prophecy, neither do we – but until he does we can rest in his love.

Rev Dr Jennifer Turner

Pray like Hezekiah

Hezekiah’s prayer (vs 14–19) is one of the great prayers of the Bible. It’s striking not just for its words, but for the physical actions that accompany them.
Hezekiah leaves his palace and goes to the temple, the place he associates with meeting God. Symbolically he places the Assyrian ultimatum in God’s presence, and only then does he speak to God.

Here are two ways we might pray as Hezekiah did. If you have a regular place for prayer, use it. If you don’t, now might be a time to think about where would be best. A simple symbolic gesture is to light a candle when you start to pray and blow it out when you finish as a way of marking the time as devoted to God.

1) If you face a particular worry or problem, spend some time writing it down, plus what the outcomes might be and how you’re feeling. This may start to clarify your thinking, and it should stop your thoughts from racing when you pray.

Then, hold the paper out to God, offering him all that’s written there without the need to repeat it to him aloud or in your mind. Ask him, as the God who in all things works for the good of those who love him (see Romans 8:28), to bring what is best in this situation.

When you’ve said all you need to say, wait in silence, and if you feel God is speaking back into your thoughts, write them down too.

2) Another way to use this is as a way of connecting God into our whole life. Simply write down all the areas of your life – family, job, church, home, finances and so on. Then, offer the paper to God, asking that his will be done in each area, again listening for his words to you.

Simon Reed

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