I was rocking my son to sleep one day, half praying for some close friends and half thinking of ways I could help and support them. And I heard God whisper, “This isn’t for you to fix.”
It was partially relieving. “But God you aren’t fixing it…” I sighed.
After so many unanswered prayers, in a world of unrelenting suffering, I can get tired. Discouraged. I can find myself believing that prayers are, well… stupid.
I shared this with my small group one week, and a younger but wise beyond her years friend commented to me, “but prayer is our greatest weapon.”
King Hezekiah must have known this. In 2 Kings, chapter 19, King Hezekiah of Judah was threatened by the king of Assyria who taunted, “Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely” (2 Kings 19:11). None of the other countries gods had come to save them, so why did the people of Judah think they would be any different? Their outlook appeared bleak, but when Hezekiah received this message, he laid it down before the Lord in the temple. And he prayed. And he was heard. “The angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning – there were all the dead bodies!” (2 Kings 19:35). Naturally, the king of Assyria withdrew, and later he was killed by his own sons.
I mean… what?! This story just blows my mind. King Hezekiah and all the people of Judah have their lives threatened. And instead of rallying troops, instead of attempting to build allies, instead of running for their lives, instead of trying to fix it themselves… King Hezekiah placed it before the Lord God and prayed about it.
Psalm 20:7 says this:
Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.
The king of Assyria boasted in his fierce army and strong reputation. But King Hezekiah knew his greatest weapon was something entirely different.
While it’s obvious that God doesn’t always answer prayers in such a dramatic way as this, God is the same God now as he was then (Psalm 102:27). Why do I ever find myself believing that my prayers don’t matter when this is the God that I pray to?
Why do I find myself believing the modern-day taunts of the Assyrian king, “don’t let the god you depend on deceive you when he says… he will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:9), that he is working all things for good (Romans 8:28), that there is absolutely nothing in all existence that can separate you from his love (Romans 8:39)?”
Because, really, isn’t that the crux of it? That the God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, is not only a God who holds all power and all authority, but He is a God whose love is immeasurable. He is a God whose affection has already been poured out, undeservingly crucified while we were still sinners and not even interested in a relationship with him (Romans 5:8). That should blow my mind more than a God who can wipe out an army overnight.
While there continue to be days that I question God’s timing and wish so badly that I could fix everything and heal everyone – I know my prayers are heard. I know they’re heard by a God who has more power than I’ll ever have, a God whose presence is tighter than my grip could ever be, a God whose love is greater than I could ever begin to understand.
Read: 2 Kings 19
Stepping In: What stands out to you in this passage? How can this story give you hope in the midst of difficulty?
Journeying Further: What stands out to you in this passage? In what ways have you seen God defeat your enemies?