Facing the Times – The Power of Prayer

We live in extraordinary times that ask for different ways of connecting with you. Please open your Bibles with me today and put a marker at Isaiah 38 and 2 Kings 18.

Isaiah 38 tells the story of a severe sickness that afflicted King Hezekiah and he prayed to the Lord and the Lord helped him.

What a gripping story about an unexpected crisis. Who of us could imagine that we will find ourselves in the middle of a life-threatening crisis this day?

I pray that the Holy Spirit will open our spiritual eyes and our hearts to hear what God say to us in these times.

We focus on the first three verses of Isaiah 38 beginning with the first part of verse 1:

“In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death.”

Isaiah 38:1

“In those days” – The people of God were under attack for the king of Assyria invaded the promised land from the north attacking the ten tribes of Northern kingdom of Israel that was independent from the line of David. They got completely scattered and Assyria turned its focus on the Southern kingdom of Israel demanding the surrender of king Hezekiah.

King Hezekiah was a direct descendent of David and ruled in Jerusalem in the south. Hezekiah then took the letter demanding his surrender to the king of Assyria into the temple of the Lord. He kneeled out before God with this letter and prayed from his heart saying:

“O Lord our God, save us, please from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You, o Lord, are God alone.”

2 Kings 19:19

God answered his prayer in a remarkable way. But another crisis came to Hezekiah as seen in 2 Kings 20 as exactly described in Isaiah 38:

“In those days Hezekiah became sick”. So here is a king who stood before God interceding for his people, praying for the deliverance of God’s people and his prayers being answered.

But suddenly this great king whose prayers were answered is now sick and staring death in the face, facing a life-threatening crisis.

Before we get to this story, let us first look at who Hezekiah was in those days. He was one of the best kings of God’s people in all of the old covenant, the son of king Ahaz who reigned in Judea whilst Hosea ruled in Israel. Ahaz was one of the worst kings of that time. Ahaz burnt his own son and the Bible says and did not what was right in God’s eyes.

There is someone that needs to hear this: like Hezekiah God can take a nothing and make of him a something. No matter what your lineage, no matter what your past, our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed you and can turn your life around to walk closely with God!

Hezekiah lived a good and righteous life in the sight of God. He was man of great faith for he trusted in the Lord:

“He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following Him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him, wherever he went out, he prospered.”

2 Kings 18:5-7

What a great accolade. How great will it be if someone can say this of us. But this man became sick and was at the point of death. A painful affliction came to a Godly man at the worst possible time. God’s people have been plunged into a severe crisis.

Anyone that have experienced a serious sickness will understand, receiving treatment for cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. And currently we all are caught up in a health crisis of unknown proportions.

Why will God allow this? A Godly king doing what is right in the sight of the Lord. He became so sick that he was at the point of death.

And then he receives a pastoral visit by the prophet Isaiah saying to him that he will not recover.

“And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, ‘Thus say the Lord ‘set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.”

Isaiah 38:1

Isaiah, a true prophet of God speaking the words of God!

You might now say that this is not what we want to hear in this crisis we are in. But this is a story of hope in a time of an unknown crisis. This story has a very good ending. Hezekiah recovers and God gave him another 15 years to live.

What is the value of this story? As we look at the life-threatening crisis we facing, we not at the end of it, not in the middle of it but at the beginning of it. That is exactly where Hezekiah finds himself in Isaiah 38:1.

What is God saying to us in this time of uncertainty and concerns of what will happen? What about my job; my finances; how long is going to continue; will my family be save and many other questions arising in a time like this.

How did king Hezekiah respond to his situation? I want us to look at two ways he responded.

  1. He seeks the face of God in prayer

“Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord,” Isaiah 38:2

This king at the point of death, greatly weakened when the prophet came to him. When Hezekiah heard this news that he is going to die, he turns his head to the wall and starts praying to the Lord.

Isaiah is still in the room. The king must have had many questions to ask the man of God. How long will I still live? What about my people?

We will at a later stage look at what he is praying, but we are given a summary:

“O restore me to health and make me live!” Isaiah 38:16

God heard his prayers restored his health. What can we get from this truth?

God’s sovereignty includes the prayers of His people! Isaiah said that the king will die and that he must set his house in order. If Hezekiah did not pray, not seeking the face of God first in prayer, what would have happened?

God is sovereign in all things and His sovereignty includes the prayers of the righteous. We don’t know what God is doing and we should not pretend to know what He is doing.

The first reaction of a Godly heart is to seek God in prayer. Let the others do the analysis, the why, the when and the where, but those in Christ first seeks the Lord and pray.

That should be our first response to a crisis.

  • Seek to live with a clear conscience

“Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight” Isaiah 38:3

Was he bargaining with God? I don’t think so. Godly people acknowledge their sinful nature. The first response he made is that if he dies, he is at peace with God for he has a clear conscience. He most probably thought like the apostle Paul; I have thought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Why did he have a clear conscience? He didn’t live a perfect sinless life, no, only our Lord Jesus Christ is without sin.

“Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.” Isaiah 38:17

Hezekiah was ready to leave this life here and now.

Our second challenge and encouragement as we face this health crisis, as we face the unknown, is to seek to live with a clear conscience.

For us to live in such a way that we are ready for that day. To live right with God and with other people because we know that one day that day will come for us too.

Hezekiah walked before God in faithfulness, seeking wholeheartedly what is good and right in God’s sight. A man of faith that had a clear conscience. That is what comforted him in his crisis,

A crisis always brings out the best and the worst out of people. We already experience this as we are in the beginning of this crisis.

Some will become angry; some will be ready to blame others. We already saw the aspect of selfishness as people have stockpiling food.

There will also be deeds of kindness as people think of the common good of others. We will also see great acts of courage, especially from those in the frontline fighting this attack on mankind.

May the Lord help us to live through this crisis in such a way that we are ready for the day we are called home. Lord help us to walk in faithfulness and help us to do what is good and right.

We need to pray and seek God’s face first and we need to be right with God.

I am closing with the last part of Isaiah 38:3.

“And Hezekiah wept bitterly” Isaiah 38:3

I belief he wept for this reason: He knew his work is not yet finished. God has promised a King that will bring hope to the whole world, this hope that we walk in now and here!

This King by prophesy should come through the line of David. Hezekiah was a descendent in that line of David. At that time Hezekiah had no son. As he prayed to God, God gave him another 15 years. God’s promise had to be fulfilled. For Hezekiah he needed to live to have a son.

He lived for fifteen years and the Bible tells us that his son Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign in Jerusalem.

Maybe you have not yet in these times of crisis sought the face of the Lord in prayer and cannot say that you have a clear conscience.

How can we make right with God? For this reason, Jesus came to this world to die for you, to redeem you and put you in right standing with God. He made a way for your sins to be forgiven.

He is the way to the Father that allows us to seek the Lord in prayer. As we come to Him and repent, he cleanses our conscience. He is the great King that Hezekiah points to!

It is Jesus that overcame death and is ready to give you everlasting life.

Kneel before him, yes turn your head and seek Him in prayer right now. Repent of your sinful nature and ask for forgiveness. Invite Him into your heart and acknowledge Him as Lord of your life. He gives you a clear conscience and the Holy Spirit is ready to walk with you in this new life where you will be God’s child.

Let us pray:

Father God we bow before you in this time of the unexpected, in this crisis that has swept the world and we seek your face in prayer,

Help us to have a clear conscience and lead us by your Spirit.

We thank our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that made both these possible, giving us also life and hope.

Hear our prayers O Lord that we can face this crisis with faith that will give us courage and strength.

In the Name above all names, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

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