Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1
When a crisis arises, what do our prayers sound like? “Why, why, why?“ or “Help, help, help?”
In 2 Kings 18, King Hezekiah faced a crisis. The Assyrian army had invaded his kingdom and destroyed many cities on its march toward Jerusalem. The Assyrian king, Sennacherib sent threatening messages to King Hezekiah. But godly Hezekiah didn’t moan or panic. He went to the temple to pray (2 Kings 19:14).
Hezekiah began his prayer by focusing on who God is, both Creator and Sovereign of all the kingdoms of the earth (v. 15). He used the name “LORD, God of Israel”—Jehovah Elohi Israel—to emphasize God’s covenant relationship with Israel. They were His people, and He had promised to protect them.
Hezekiah’s first request is given in verse 16: “Listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.” Hezekiah recognized that Sennacherib was really attacking God—challenging His sovereignty. Hezekiah’s second request appears in verse 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.” This wise king understood that the battle wasn’t “about him;” it was about God defending His reputation.
Hezekiah’s short prayer convicts me about the subject matter of my own prayers. His situation was desperate, but only five words of his prayer are devoted to the request for deliverance. The rest of it is devoted to who God is, how Sennacherib had wronged Him, and how His name would be honored if Sennacherib was destroyed. My prayers are often the reverse: 98% about me and my loved ones, 2% about God.
Hezekiah’s prayer also makes me think about the motivation for my prayers. Why should God answer them? To make my life easier or to bring glory to His name? Obviously, victory over the Assyrians was best for Hezekiah personally, but he didn’t use the words “me” or “I” at all in his prayer. How often is that true of my prayers?
Even in a crisis, our prayers can be more than moans of misery or cries for help. They can be acts of worship if we also pray, “Bring glory to Your Name through this, O LORD.”
God’s answer to Hezekiah’s prayer is recorded in 2 Kings 19:20-34. What was God going to do? Why was He going to do it? What does this answer reveal about what’s important to God?
Read Sennacherib’s taunts and threats(delivered by his spokesman Rabshakeh) in 2 Kings 18:19-35. What lie did he include? (Contrast 18:22 with 18:4.) What was God’s response to Sennacherib’s arrogance? (2 Kings 19:35-37).
“So that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God” was the battle cry for two of God’s greatest champions. Read Exodus 9:13-15 and 1 Samuel 17:45-47. How are their battle cries similar to Hezekiah’s prayer? What can we learn from their examples?
Psalm 115 is hymn of praise. What portions of this psalm can you incorporate in your prayers this week as a tribute to the God who is “our help and shield”?
Denise K. Loock