Intercession is going to God on someone’s behalf. It a holy privilege and duty, not to be taken lightly. It is strenuous and it can be messy. But it is one of the greatest ways we can minister and show love to others. We have learned from Nehemiah and his BURDEN for others, and from Daniel and his IDENTIFICATION with those for whom he was interceding. Most recently, we learned from Elijah how to pray for those who are sick. Today we’ll learn from King Hezekiah how to pray for ourselves and others when trouble comes.
Hezekiah was the king of Judah, the southern kingdom. In 701 BC, the mighty Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem ready to lay siege to the capital city and complete its conquest of the nation. Twenty years earlier, Assyria had destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel so the threat was very real to everyone. Hezekiah had emptied the treasury and stripped the gold from the doors of the Temple to get a tribute of eleven tons of silver and a ton of gold. This did not satisfy the Assyrian king. His general delivered a letter to Hezekiah, threatening him and mocking the God he served.
In 2 Kings 19, Hezekiah took the letter to the Temple and laid to before the Lord and he prayed.
Hezekiah approached God on the basis of His covenant relationship with Israel, and His place above all as creator.
15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord: Lord God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you are God — you alone — of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth.
How do we approach God? We have a unique position and relationship with Him because of the blood of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 4:16). But coming boldly is not the same thing as coming with flippancy, demands or a sense of entitlement.
Hezekiah next draws attention to the Assyrians’ sacrilegious mocking of God.
16 Listen closely, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see. Hear the words that Sennacherib has sent to mock the living God.
Notice this. God’s glory and God’s reputation are Hezekiah’s primary concerns. He does not mention the cities that have already been overrun by the Assyrians. He does not mention whether the city of Jerusalem has enough provisions for the coming siege. He does not mention the size of his army versus the size of the Assyrian army. Even when trouble came, Hezekiah understood that when God is revered as God the other things fall into place.
Finally, Hezekiah requests deliverance so that God gets the glory.
19 Now, Lord our God, please save us from his power so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are God — you alone.
Hezekiah could have prayed, Save us so that Your people whom You love don’t suffer. Or perhaps, Save us so the city You have chosen isn’t destroyed. But he didn’t. He prayed for God to be recognized as God alone.
None of this is to say that if you pray using these words, God will automatically answer like it is some incantation. That is NOT how God works. Rather it is an invitation to consider how our hard times can be situations where God gets glory. We, that is I, usually seek the restoration of my own equilibrium, I seek relief from hardship. I complain and launch into how God doesn’t love me because He fell asleep at the wheel and let these terrible things happen. It’s not fair. I have been a faithful servant. And on and on.
What Hezekiah models in his prayer is that we need to take a step back and see a bigger picture. He keeps God’s character and His greater purposes in focus. He knows what the Assyrians are capable of. He is afraid– any sane person would be, but because he knows God’s power and God’s character, when trouble comes Hezekiah prays that this trouble would be an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed.
That is a prayer of great faith.