Thursday, May 8, 2014

Because You Prayed

I have been in Beth Moore's study, Breaking Free for 3.5 sessions so far. It's very good and I can see the potential to really get to the bottom of some of my "hold-ups" in life with Christ. But my mind has taken a detour with one of the scripture references we looked up for an assignment.

In Isaiah 36-37, King Sennacherib (what a name, huh?) of Assyria was threatening to overtake Jerusalem who had Hezekiah as their king. King Sennacherib was ruthless and had overtaken and destroyed many cities before.  He and his advisers taunted those in Jerusalem, saying things like, "your king cannot rescue you," and "he is misleading you when he says 'the Lord will rescue you.'" And went on to name many of the other lands they had defeated and asked where were their gods. If you read chapter 36, you will be amazed at the tricks they tried to put fear into the people - tricks that the enemy of our souls try on us all the time.  That's another blog post, I'm thinkin'.

But the people of Jerusalem and King Hezekiah were shaken in their faith. Scared witless. And insulted that their enemies would humiliate "the living God" so profoundly. Hezekiah even received a letter ripping on God Almighty from a top Assyrian adviser and Isaiah 37 records that "Hezekiah took the letter...went up to the LORD's temple and spread it out before the LORD. Hezekiah prayed before the Lord." He first praised God and His greatness and then he told the Lord that, yes, Assyria has destroyed "all the nations." He mentioned how much they taunt "the living God." And then in 37:20, he prayed, "Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power, so all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord."

And guess what God did.  He sent the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah with this message "BECAUSE YOU PRAYED to me concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria..." And the message goes on to tell what the Lord God will do to the army of Assyria.

And He did it! Somehow, sometime in the middle of the night, the Lord's "angel" (or "messenger") went out and killed 185,000 troops in the Assyrian camp. It says, "When they got up early the next morning, there were all the corpses! So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and went on his way. He went home and stayed in Nineveh."WOW! What a powerful God!

This really struck me. I have struggled to  remember to bring "all my cares to the Lord, even though it says that He cares for me." (I Peter 5:7) I have even, I think, taken pride that I "deeply trust the Lord and know that He will "work things out for good." (Romans 8:28) And I do have that trust in Him. But sometimes that becomes an excuse not to bother praying, especially when I'm extra busy.

He also says to "be worried about nothing but in EVERYTHING with prayer and petition, LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN TO GOD..." (Philippians 4:6) Now, I know that God knows all before I ever bring anything to Him. Yet He tells us to bring everything to Him in prayer.

I wonder what might have been the outcome if Hezekiah had not prayed. Jerusalem likely would have been defeated and taken captive right then and there (They did later under bad leadership.) God said, "Because you prayed to me..." And the results were dramatic, to say the least.

I'm trying to really take this to heart and remember to be obedient to pray about all my concerns. My brain often goes into overdrive trying to figure out how to make things happen, what I can say or do to "facilitate" God's will - long before I think to pray.

But that is just foolishness. Because the next verse says, "...And the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7) Oh my, what a promise in this crazy world, with so many things about which to worry, that we can have the peace of GOD. But first we have to bring everything to Him in prayer.

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