In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city.” ‘ And this is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing which He has spoken: Behold, I will bring the shadow on the sundial, which has gone down with the sun on the sundial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward.” So the sun returned ten degrees on the dial by which it had gone down. (Isaiah 38:1-8)
The Power Of Prayer
As the twelfth king of Judah, Hezekiah is remembered as one of the most righteous kings of the divided kingdom. His father was a wicked man but at the age of 25, Hezekiah took the kingdom of Judah back to God through his reforms to remove idolatry, including the worship of Nehushtan (the bronze serpent made by Moses). Hezekiah trusted in the Lord and walked according to commandments given to Moses. Assyria had subjugated Judah and early in the reign of Hezekiah, the king rebelled against the Assyrian king, refusing to pay tribute. This brought an immediate response by the Assyrian king Sennacherib who came up against Jerusalem. Through the assurance of the prophet Isaiah and the prayers of Hezekiah, Jerusalem was freed from the siege of the Assyrians when the angel of the Lord went out and killed 185,000 of the enemy. Sennacherib returned home and was assassinated by two of his sons.
At the age of forty-one and the height of his power, Hezekiah is sick near death. Isaiah comes to tell the king to put his affairs in order because he will die. The king turns his face toward the wall and prays earnestly for God to deliver him with bitter tears. As Isaiah is leaving the king’s chamber, the Lord tells the prophet to return to Hezekiah and tell him he has been granted fifteen more years to live. Assyria will be expelled from the land and Jerusalem will be at peace. As a sign of the promise of God, the sun would move back ten degrees on the sundial of Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz. So the shadow on the sundial moved backward ten steps.
Hezekiah recovers from his illness and sings his praise to the mercy and grace of God. Answered prayer is one of the greatest experiences known to man. God always answers prayer but for Hezekiah, it was fifteen years of life. The power of prayer is not that God cowers to the whims of men. David and Bathsheba prayed earnestly for the Lord to deliver their newborn son but he died. Hezekiah sought the blessings of the Lord with bitter tears and was granted life. The power of prayer is found in the heart of the one praying who accepts and trusts the Lord’s answer as true and righteous. Every prayer offered to the Lord in faith will be answered by the measure of the wisdom of God. This is not a guarantee the answer will be desired by men but rather to accept from the mind of the Lord what He grants. Fervent prayers have been offered to the saints of God who have a dire illness of which they do not recover. Did God answer the prayer as He did with Hezekiah? Absolutely and without a doubt. When someone is in danger and prayers are offered for deliverance, they are delivered; did God answer the prayer? Every time and without a doubt.
The power of prayer is found in the heart of the one seeking the favor of God to believe the answer is the will of the Lord. No man knows the mind of God. There are many questions about why some live and some die and why suffering comes on some and blessing on others. Fervent prayer is braced with trust, hope, and faith. Jesus knew the power of prayer when He begged His Father hours before His death. His faith was defined by the words, “Thy will be done.” Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and was granted fifteen years to live. What a blessing for Hezekiah but fifteen years later, he died. Life is not about finding answered prayers for things below but opening doors of things above. The most important answered prayer is: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in.”