PART 1 PRAYER
PART 1 PRAYER
I believe that prayer is one of the most misunderstood topics in the church today!
In some churches, a prayer session takes place before the message has been preached, and in others a prayer session takes place immediately after the message. Still for other churches, there is a designated time or times for the assembly to gather together for prayer. There are even segregated prayer times, some for men only and others for women only. But one thing is for certain, there are many misconceptions about prayer.
If I were to ask you, when you pray to God the Father, what do you ask for? I wonder what you would say. Below are some examples of what you might say.
~ God, I pray that you would find me a girlfriend or boyfriend.
~ God, I pray that you would help me find a job.
~ God, I pray that you would help me in my finances.
~ God, I pray that you would heal so and so.
~ God, I pray that you would replace my boss at work with someone else.
~ God, I pray that you would open up a door so that I could go on the mission field.
~ God, I pray that you would send someone to preach the gospel to so and so.
~ God, I pray that you would light a spiritual fire under my husband or wife.
~ God, if it is your will, I pray that you would help me win the lottery. If you do, I will quit my job and serve you all the rest of the days of my life.
~ God, I pray that you would keep me healthy.
~ God, I pray that you would get back at that person, who has wronged me for no reason.
Have you asked God for any of these requests? I know I have.
Are these the type of requests we should be asking God for?
Is there a basis or pre-requisite condition which allows for our prayers to be heard and answered by God?
What did Jesus pray for?
If we could answer these questions, we would have a much deeper insight as to this topic. Are you ready to learn more about this subject? If you are, then let’s begin.
What Is the Basis Or Condition for God Hearing and Answering Prayer?
A. During the Age of the Gentiles
A Period of Time from Adam and Eve to the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses
The first thing I would like you to become aware of in regard to prayer is: what is the basis or condition for God hearing and responding to our prayers? I didn’t mention anything in regard to, what should we be asking God for? I believe that too often we are focused on the what and not on the condition which grants us an audience (an open ear) from God. Some might believe that there is no condition. Just pray to God and He will choose whether to listen to what was said and provide an answer in regard to it. But what if there is a condition which causes God to hear and answer our prayers, wouldn’t you want to know what it is? This is what we will initially set out to find.
Maybe the first glimpse of determining what this condition is will be found by looking at some verses which pertain to the life of Noah.
Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
A man named Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord. This word “grace” refers to the favor of God toward sinful man. Another way of saying this is, God revealed Himself to Noah, and Noah believed in Him. When Noah believed in Him, the scriptures didn’t say anything about God coming into his life by means of his Spirit. So, in what manner, if any, does the Holy Spirit come into an Old Testament saints’ life, when they professed belief in God as He revealed Himself to them? This might help us in determining what the basis is for God hearing and answering our prayers. Let’s take a look a few scriptures which might help to provide us with insight in this regard.
And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? (Genesis 41:38)
After Joseph, the son of Jacob, interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, Pharaoh said, can we find such a man as this in whom the Spirit of God is? This verse says that Pharaoh was aware that the Spirit was in Joseph’s life. In what sense?
And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. (1 Samuel 11:6)
The next person we will take a look at is Saul, who following this account was made the first king of Israel. At this time, there was a conflict between the Ammonites and the people of Jabesh-Gilead. When Saul heard the report about this conflict, the scriptures state that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. It’s interesting to note that the Spirit is referred to as having “come upon” Saul. What does this mean? In the Hebrew, these words mean to descend mightily upon, to rush upon, and to pass upon.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
To help provide further clarification let’s take a look at Psalm 51:11. After King David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband Uriah, he asked God to “take not” the Holy Spirit from him. In this instance, it was made clear that the Holy Spirit could be removed from the life of an Old Testament saint. We could infer that if a person lost the Spirit this was another way of saying that the Spirit ascended from him/her. Some commentators state that the residency of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament saint was non-permanent (on-resting) whereas the residency of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament saint is permanent (indwelling).
What was it that caused the Spirit to depart? As evidenced by King David’s prayer to God that He not remove it in regard to the sinful decisions which he made. Not only was the committing of sin an issue, but the lack of repentance regarding it.
Now that we have a better understanding as to the status of the Spirit for those who lived in the Old Testament the next question to consider is this. Did everyone who believed in God, as He was revealed in the Old Testament, receive the on-resting Spirit?
And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
Let’s go back and take a look at the person who we initially introduced, that being Noah. In Genesis 7:1 God called him “righteous”. The word “righteous” indicated that he had continual communion or fellowship with God. Communion or fellowship indicated that Noah was occupied with the divine perspective which he heard from God; and appropriated it for himself, thus having a spiritual perspective toward himself, others, and the circumstances of life.
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. (Genesis 6:22)
God communicated to Noah what it was he would have him do, and Noah would respond positively to His instructions.
And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (Genesis 6:3)
Because of mankind’s wickedness, God instructed him to warn them of a coming disaster involving a catastrophic flood. Mankind was given 120 years in order to decide to respond to God’s provision for safety.
At an appointed time, Noah was instructed to build a vessel called an Ark, which would provide safety for those who would heed to his warning of an impending disaster. Unfortunately, only Noah and his immediate family chose to reside in the place of safety. Along with them, God instructed Noah to bring into the Ark two of every species of animals. Finally, the day came when it rained on the earth for 40 days and nights destroying all mankind. After another seven days had gone by Noah, his family, and all of the animals departed from the Ark onto dry land. God blessed him and his family. He even made a covenant with him stating that he would never again destroy mankind by means of a flood.
What do you think? Did Noah receive the on-resting Spirit? While the scriptures don’t say as such one could assume that he did because as was stated earlier he was “righteous”, thus indicating that he had continual communion with God.
Can we conclude that everyone who believed in God received the on-resting Spirit in the Old Testament?
It would appear that the on-resting Spirit could be received based on three conditions:
~ The person believed in God as He was revealed.
~ The person believed in what God said, hiding the word away in their heart, and mentally reflected upon it.
~ The person obeyed God’s instructions.
Now you have a better understanding as to whether the Spirit was received by everyone who believed in God, and for those who did receive Him as to whether His abiding was permanent. Is there any other clue that might serve as the basis for God hearing and answering Noah’s prayer? Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any example mentioned of Noah praying to God. However, it’s is interesting to note that God had a basis or condition for using him in regards to building an Ark. What was this condition?
The condition was that Noah was righteous. He had continual fellowship with God. He heard God’s word, believed it, contemplated it, and obeyed it. Could we assume that the same condition for God using him is the same condition which would cause God to hear and answer what was asked of Him? I don’t know if we can emphatically make this connection yet.
The next person we will look at did pray to God. Let’s see if God heard and answered his prayer.
Please go to Romans 4.
Genesis 12:1-2; Genesis 15:2-4, 7-8, 18; Genesis 20:7, 17-18; Romans 4:3-11, 13, 18
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: (Romans 4:3-11)
…Abraham… Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. (Romans 4:13, 18)
The next person we will look at is called Abram. When God visited him, he believed in Him and what He promised. This belief in God as He was revealed along with His promises which pointed to Christ, was the basis for him being accepted as being righteous (crediting payment to one’s account; acceptance with God; the man whom God had declared innocent in his court, and who therefore was in a right relation with God1). His belief in God along with His promises was the prerequisite needed in order for him to have an opportunity to fellowship or have communion with Him. Remember belief in God doesn’t determine that fellowship with Him will occur, but it is the prerequisite that must take place in order for there to be a possibility that fellowship with God might become a reality. God sporadically communicated to Abram and Abram believed what He heard and hid away these thoughts in his heart. Abram’s occupation with God’s word (declarations) served as the basis for his behavior and obedience to His directives.
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: (Genesis 12:1-2)
God told Abram to leave his country and depart unto a land that He would give him. He also told him that he would make of him a great nation, and that in him all families of the earth would be blessed. It was apparent to Abram that if he was going to have descendants, then he must have an heir, a son. So, Abram went on a journey not knowing where exactly to go, but trusted in God to get him there.
And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. (Genesis 15:2-4)
And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, (Genesis 15:7-8)
Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Genesis 15:18)
A period of time had gone by, and a word comes to him from the Lord in a vision. God told him that He was his great reward. Abram prayed (made a request) in the form of a statement saying to God that the one born in his house was his heir. It was as if he was asking God if this was the son, who was to be the heir. God responded to him and said, no. Abraham prayed (made a request) again in the form of a question asking God about the promise of the land inheritance. God told him that at some future time this land would be given to his seed. God heard both prayer requests and answered them. The first request will come to pass during Abram’s lifetime while the second will not. There is another incident when Abram prayed to God. Let’s see if God heard and answered him in this case.
Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine. So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife. (Genesis 20:7, 17-18)
While Abram was on his journey to the land that God promised him, he arrived at a place known as Gerar, whose king was called Abimelech. Somehow the king became aware of Sarah’s (Abram’s wife/half-sister) beauty, and finding out by Abram’s own admission that she was his sister, he sent servants to bring her to him, presumably to wed. The Lord however intervened and told Abimelech by means of a dream that she was Abram’s wife, and therefore not to touch her. He is further told that if he doesn’t return her back to Abram, the consequences will be death for both himself and his family. Upon hearing this, King Abimelech immediately returned Sarah to Abram. Abram in turn prays for the king. Evidently, God heard his prayer, because his response addressed two things: first the consequence of death was removed, and second the lesser consequence of prohibiting the women of the king’s house from having children was lifted.
I will ask the same question as I did in the last section, what was the basis or condition which caused Abram’s prayers to be heard and answered by God? If this still isn’t clear yet, let’s take a look at one more person in the Old Testament whose name is Moses.
Exodus 3:2, 6; Exodus 10:12-19
The angel of the Lord appeared to him out of a burning bush according to Exodus 3:2,6. It’s possible that it was at this time when Moses believed in Him.
And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Moses is made aware of his calling, which was to bring his brethren out from their slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt. He was instructed to go to Pharaoh and ask him to let His people go. Moses after much resistance goes before Pharaoh being accompanied by his brother Aaron and asks him for the release of his people, to which Pharaoh said no. This began the ball rolling in regards to the sending upon the Egyptian people various plagues, which hopefully would convince Pharaoh to change his mind. So, God instructs both Moses and Aaron in this regard.
One of the plagues which had a devastating effect on the economy of the Egyptians was the plague of locusts. They ate all of the herbs of the land along with all of the fruit of the trees. Pharaoh realizing that these terrible plagues were the result of his refusal to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt calls for Moses and Aaron. When they came before his presence, he asked them to pray to their God to stop this plague. So, Moses left Pharaohs presence and prayed to the Lord concerning this request. The Lord heard and answered his prayer and stopped the plague.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left. And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the Lord your God, that he may take away from me this death only. And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord. And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. (Exodus 10:12-19)
Here we are again. Is there some basis or condition that has become clear to you, which caused God to hear and answer Moses prayer? I think it is starting to become clearer. Should we make an educated guess and then determine if what we have concluded is confirmed by looking at the lives of other individuals from the next age?
The initial basis for having one’s prayers heard and answered is the person must have believed in God, when he appeared before them or communicated with them. Secondly, we can assume that at some point in this person’s life they received the on-resting Spirit. Third, they trusted in what God said, hid it away in their heart, and obeyed it.
By the way, what I wanted you to notice was that God’s instructions for each person was different. There was no set pattern of obedience. The plan of God was unique for each person. Noah was asked to build an ark. Abram was told that his seed would receive a land inheritance and that he was to leave the place where he dwelt and depart unto the land that God had given him. Moses was told to ask Pharaoh to release his brethren from their captivity.
Is this same protocol true in the age that follows, the Age of Israel?
B. During the Age of the Jews
From the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses to the Birth of Jesus Christ
Now that we believe we know what the condition is for God hearing and answering prayer let’s see if we can confirm it by looking at two individuals who prayed to God?
1 Samuel 9:27; 1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 16:14-16; 1 Samuel 17:37; 1 Samuel 18:7-9
We are going to take a look again at Saul, who became Israel’s first king. Why did God allow for a king to be placed over the Israelites?
Before the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan, the land of promise, God appointed a new leader to replace Moses. This man’s name was Joshua. Under his guidance, they crossed over the Jordan River into this new land. While there, they set out to conquer its inhabitants. After Joshua died the leadership changed. The Jews had no distinct ruler over the twelve tribes. When they would disobey God, they would find themselves in subjection to one of their enemies. So, God after hearing their cry would raise up a person to be in charge over them, who was otherwise known as a judge. The judge would receive instructions from God as to how to secure Israel’s freedom. This period of time would be known as the period of the Judges, which lasted for over 400 years.
Israel decided that they no longer wanted a judge to rule over them. Apparently, both of the sons of one of the judges, whose name was Samuel, were considered corrupt. So, this was what prompted them to ask Him for a different form of leadership to be placed over them. God consented to their demands and chose a man named Saul to be their first king.
And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God. (1 Samuel 9:27)
And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. (1 Samuel 10:6)
God spoke to the prophet/judge Samuel and told him that on the following day to look out by the city gate for a man from the land of Benjamin. On the following day, Saul came to the gate of a city in the land of Zuph, where Samuel was waiting. God spoke to Samuel and told him that this was the man, who will be Israel’s next king. Samuel proceeded to declare unto him the word of the Lord, and after which anointed him with oil. He then told him to go to a certain place, where he would meet up with a company of prophets. Saul did as he was directed. It would be at this time, when the Spirit of God would come upon him.
But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. (1 Samuel 16:14-16)
During King Saul’s reign, the Israelites gained victories over many of their foes. However, Saul at times would disobey the divine instructions that were relayed to him via the prophet/judge Samuel. In one instance, he was commanded to destroy all the people and animals of one of Israel’s enemies known as the Amalekites including their king, Agag. Rather than doing exactly as God said, he spared not only their king but also the best of the cattle. This disobedience continued to be evidenced by him. Eventually, he was approached by Samuel and told that God had rejected him from being king. Samuel would receive a glimpse from God as to who the next king would be. He was instructed to visit the sons of a man named Jesse and it was revealed to him that the youngest son whose name was David would be the next king. As Saul continued to do things his own way, God eventually caused the on-resting Spirit to depart from him and instead gave him an evil spirit. Saul would never be the same again.
David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee. (1 Samuel 17:37)
Saul would meet the person who unbeknownst to him would become the next king of Israel in an unusual set of circumstances. At this time, the Israelites and their enemy the Philistines were ready to engage in battle. Goliath, a champion of the Philistines, decided to come forward from the ranks and challenge Israel to send one of their men out before him in a fight to the death match. However, neither the king nor any one of his men would reply. David, in the meantime, had just shown up having been sent by his father to bring food provisions for his elder brothers who were enlisted in Saul’s army. While there, he heard Goliath’s challenge and decided to come before the king letting him know that he would fight him. Saul tried to discourage him by mentioning that he had no experience in military matters. David replied and said that yes, he had experience as evidenced by the lion and bear which he killed by means of the deliverance of the Lord.
And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. (1 Samuel 18:7-9)
Saul upon hearing this allowed him to confront the giant. David approached him and by using a sling shot hit him right in the middle of his forehead with a small stone. Goliath became unconscious and fell down. David takes Goliaths sword and finishes the job. Because of this victory, David receives admiration from the Jewish people. Saul upon hearing that the people praised David more highly than himself became jealous of him, which caused him to entertain the idea that David might have aspirations to usurp the throne.
This poisonous mindset caused Saul to eventually try to take David’s life on numerous occasions. Eventually, David was appointed by Saul to be captain over 1000 men of war, which allowed him to be away from his presence. As time went by, David became friends to one of Saul’s sons, named Jonathon. He told him about his father’s attempts to kill him and asked him if he could try to find out why this had been the case. During this time, one of Saul’s daughters had aspiration to marry David. So, Saul upon hearing this used it as another opportunity to slay David. David and Saul’s daughter Michal marry, however, a short time after, she became aware of a plot by her father to have her husband killed. After she informed him of this, he fled.
Saul learning of David’s departure took with him his army and decided to hunt him down. On a couple of occasions, he came very close to carrying out his directive. Likewise, David on the other hand had opportunities to kill him, but chose not to. Eventually, Saul realized that David had no aspiration to usurp the throne. He admitted to him that he was wrong in pursuing after him. David not being sure if his confession was truthful decided to leave the land of Israel and enter into the land of the Philistines.
It was at this time that Saul would find himself in a situation where he desperately needed to hear from God in prayer. Surely God would answer the king and provide instruction. Another battle between Israel and the Philistines was about to take place. Saul was concerned that this battle might not go his way, so he decided to seek guidance by means of the Urim and Thummim. Many believe that the Urim and Thummim were two stones which were contained on the inside of the breastplate, on a piece of beautifully embroidered fabric, that hung on the high priest’s chest. On the breastplate, it is believed were contained twelve beautiful jewels arranged in four rows, each stone representing one of the tribes of Israel2. Some thought that if the high priest was approached by the king for an answer to a question that God would convey his answer by means of illuminating one of these stones.
And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams nor by Urim, nor by prophets. (1 Samuel 28:6)
What was God’s answer to Saul’s prayer (request) in regard to the outcome of the battle? God chose not to answer him by this or any other means (e.g. dreams, prophets, etc.). Did God hear and answer Saul’s prayer, no? Why not, because Saul was no longer in fellowship with him? Saul was only looking out for himself. He had no desire to repent of his ways. So, God left him up to his own doing.
I want you to take a look at one more person, who was also a king that made some decisions, which were contrary to God’s word. Like Saul he would eventually find himself in a place where his very life was at stake. He decided to pray (make request) to the Lord. Did the Lord hear and answer his prayer? Let’s find out.
Suggested Reading: 2 Kings 18:1 -19:37
The next person we will look at is King Hezekiah, who reigned over the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Why was he king of only two tribes? After the reign of four successive kings (e.g. Saul, Ishbosheth, David, and Solomon), the nation of Israel became split. Ten tribes cooperated together and formed what was known as the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The remaining 2 tribes formed a kingdom, which was known as the Southern Kingdom of Judah, which had a priesthood and temple at Jerusalem. Eventually, the Northern Kingdom would go into captivity by Assyria never to reunite again. Years later, the Southern Kingdom would also go into captivity by the Babylonians. Cyrus the Great of Persia would be used by God to overthrow the Babylonians and set the Jews free thus allowing them to return to their homeland.
He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not. (2 Kings 18:5-7)
The scriptures are not clear as to when God made himself known to King Hezekiah. But what we do know is that he faithfully adhered to keeping his commandments. This is a clear indication that he communed (fellowshipped) with God.
At age 25, he became the new king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His father, Ahaz, had defiled the temple and finally closed its doors, thus prohibiting the Levitical ministry of the Mosaic Law from being exercised. The temple worship was at the heart of the Jewish nation, and if that was wrong, everything else would be wrong3. On the very first day of his reign as king, Hezekiah commanded the priests to clean the temple inside and out, removing all of the remnants of idol worship. It took 16 days to complete the work. Also at this time, he commanded that all of the high places, the places of pagan worship, be destroyed. As the worship of Jehovah was reinstituted, the nation experienced agricultural prosperity.
It was abundantly clear that Hezekiah loved the Lord. But this didn’t mean that every decision of his was made in accordance with God’s commands. One of his decisions, which God clearly said in his word to not engage in, came back and caused him trouble. In the 14th year of his reign, the army of King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded the territory of Judah and was heading toward its capital, Jerusalem, to inflict punishment unless Hezekiah changed his mind in regard to a particular practice.
Apparently, he had continued to engage in providing tribute money to Assyria, as had the previous kings of Judah before him. He decided at this time to no longer provide tribute. Being aware that a war with Assyria was eminent unless he changed his mind, he decided to do just that. It appeared that he was torn over this decision. Here he was encouraging the people to worship Yahweh and yet in this very area, which was prohibited under the Mosaic Law, he was allowing this practice to continue.
Eventually, he changed his mind again and the tribute stopped. This precipitated the Assyrian army to come back to Jerusalem with warnings of dire consequences if the tribute was not reinstituted. A messenger of the Assyrians named Rab-shakeh was sent to speak to a man named Eliakim, who was over the household of the king. He was told by Rab-shakeh that if the tribute was not forthcoming soon that not even their God could help them. After hearing this pronouncement of doom, Eliakim contacted the king and told him this message.
Instead of changing his mind again, the king decided to do something entirely different. He goes into the temple of God and abides there. While there, he sent men to search out the prophet Isaiah and convey to him what was going on with the hope that God would give him a word in response. Almost immediately the Lord conveyed to Isaiah a response which was to tell the king to not be afraid of the words that he heard from the Assyrians. So, the messengers returned and told the king these words.
And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only. Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. (2 Kings 19:14-16, 19-20, 32)
The king of Assyria decided to flame the fire a little more. He reinforced his demands by sending messengers again to Jerusalem with a letter to be given to King Hezekiah. In this letter, he mocked Hezekiah’s God by saying, let your God not deceive you into thinking that Jerusalem will not be handed over into the hand of the king of Assyria. Hezekiah instead of reconsidering his position took the letter and spread it out before him in the temple. After which, he prayed to his God. His prayer consisted of praising God for who He is and declaring unto Him the words of the Assyrian king. He then asked Him to save him and his people, not just for their sake, but so that all of the nations around would know that He is God.
Unbeknownst to him, God heard his prayer and gave the answer to the prophet Isaiah, who had His response sent back to Hezekiah. Hezekiah received assurance that the Assyrian army would not enter Jerusalem. God in his unique response sent the angel of the Lord into the Assyrian camp causing about 185,000 men to be killed. The Assyrians decided to withdraw and go home to the city of Nineveh. When they arrived, King Sennacherib decided to enter into the house of Nisroch his god for worship. Little did he know that two of his sons would decide to kill him in this very place with the sword
Why did God hear and answer Hezekiah’s prayers on a number of occasions, when he disobeyed one of his commands?
I think the difference between Hezekiah and Saul was that Saul habitually sinned and didn’t repent. Hezekiah was faithful to God in not only reopening the temple, but in obeying most of his commands. At some point, he decided that he would not continue in the practice of paying tribute. I’m sure he repented, the evidence of which was in his change of mind toward it. I believe that God saw that his heart was after him. Yes, he made a mistake, but he eventually acknowledged it, turned from it, and made the right decision in addressing it, which was to go to the temple and seek counsel.
I believe that the lives of these two people confirm the condition for having one’s prayers heard and answered by God. I will reiterate them here again. The initial basis for having one’s prayers heard and answered is the person must have believed in God, when he appeared before them or communicated with them. Secondly, we can assume that at some point in this person’s life they received the on-resting Spirit. Third, they trusted in what God said, hid it away in their heart, and obeyed it.
We can add to this by saying that God provided direction as He did for those who lived during the Age of the Gentiles. However, He provided for the Jews clear instructions as to how they were to live as contained in what is called the Mosaic Law. This Law can be divided up into four sections each of which can be denoted by one word. Here are the four words and the sections of the Law which pertain to each.
~ Statutes - [the Spiritual Code-the ordinances of the Law (e.g. the Tabernacle, the Holy Days, the Offerings, the High Priest, The Meat Offering, the Trespass Offering, the Levites, etc. Exodus 26-31; 35-40; Leviticus 1-24)]
~ Commandments - the Moral Code which included not only the 10 commandments called the Decalogue (e.g. honor thy father and thy mother… Exodus 20:12-17) but more than 100 other commandments (e.g. thou shalt have no other gods before me; the Sabbath,… thou shalt not do any work… Exodus 20:12-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Deuteronomy 12)
~ Judgments - [the Social Code which are the laws belonging to civil government. (e.g. dietary, marriage, military, conservation, etc. along with the related consequences (punishment)] Deuteronomy 14-28).
~ Testimonies - the laws directing the commemoration of certain events (e.g. Seventh year Sabbath rest; the 50th year, the year of Jubilee; the ordinance of the Passover; the feast of Unleavened Bread; etc. Exodus 12:43-50; Numbers 28: 16-25; Deuteronomy 25-26).
The king or person who appropriated, reflected upon, and obeyed the Law were said to have communion (fellowship) with God. With this said, my next question for you to consider is this.
What is the basis or condition, which will cause God to hear and answer the prayers of those, who are New Testament believers?
You might say, that’s easy, the condition is the same as for the Old Testament saints. Believe in God, receive the Spirit, and do what God says. This sounds right, right? The only way to know if this is correct is to present scriptural information that pertains to the three components of this condition. In the next section, we will take a look at the Church Age, which is the age in which we as believers live, and determine what the condition is that will cause God to hear and answer our prayers.
1UBS New Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 1 April 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
2Bible Exposition Commentary/Old Testament, 2004, 3 April 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
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