Thursday, November 06, 2014

Devotion about prayer: Before the Altar - 2 Kings 19:14

2 Kings 19:14             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. 

            Sometimes it’s not good to be king. Take Hezekiah, for instance. A faithful and wise ruler, who sought to please God and bring peace to his people. Throughout most of his reign things were going well, and then the Assyrian army shows up and besieges the city of Jerusalem, threatening to destroy everything and everyone in it. Ouch! So much for being faithful to God.

            Hezekiah knew that the Assyrians were powerful. He understood that they could overrun Jerusalem and overwhelm the people. He was also under no delusions about his own fate when the city was defeated – the Assyrians would put him in chains and cut out his eyes, making him a laughing stock to the haughty Assyrian leaders and humiliated before his own people.  In other words, for Hezekiah, it was not good to be king.

            But the old ruler knew of a power greater than the Assyrian army; he had faith in his Almighty God. The king believed in the LORD of hosts who could destroy Judah’s enemies and deliver the people of God. So Hezekiah took the ultimatum letter he had received from the Assyrian general and placed it on the altar in the temple. He sincerely and humbly appealed to God for the deliverance of the people. He expressed to God that the Assyrians had insulted the LORD and that they deserved to be punished. He placed the letter before God to let Him see what was written. He prayed from his breaking heart and the LORD for help. As king, he could have negotiated a peace which may have allowed him to escape, but his people would have been enslaved. Instead, Hezekiah took the matter directly to God and asked Him to intervene. This wasn't a gamble; this was a real act of faith which God honored.

            We all carry burdens in our hearts and worries in our minds. Perhaps we should write down our problems, issues, and fears, and then present what we've written to God. Sometimes the writing down of what we feel clarifies the problematic situations we are experiencing. By giving them wholly over to God and seeking His help, we may begin to turn those circumstances around in positive and effective ways. As long as we are willing to pray, God is always ready to listen.

Questions for personal reflection

What is currently worrying me the most? Am I willing to completely hand over this worry in prayer, or do I keep cradling it in my heart?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, You once taught that people should not be anxious about tomorrow because there are enough problems to deal with today. You were teaching Your followers and us that the future is in God’s hands, so we should concentrate on what is presently happening. Help us to come to You today with our worries and concerns, issues and problems. Grant us the courage to leave them in Your care. Guide us throughout today. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s latest snowman drawings called “Best Buddies.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: Buddies.

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