Isaiah 37-38 and 2 Thessalonians 3
Welcome back friends!
Today in Isaiah 37 we see a glimpse of Hezekiah’s prayer life and the boldness he has when asking God for deliverance. This boldness is not in an outward appearance…when Hezekiah hears the King of Assyria’s threats he rips his clothes and wears sackcloth, both common practices for those who are mourning or in a vulnerable state. While he seems unsure, Hezekiah is still willing to ask God for deliverance from this threat, even though we do not hear much regarding his faithfulness or attitude towards God until this time. In my opinion, this makes his request even more bold because he seems to lack relationship with God! And yet, we see a prayer for his city to be saved for the purpose that they know God is LORD (v.20), and God delivers! God sends an angel to strike down the Assyrians and scares away the king (v. 36). While the appearance of Hezekiah almost seems cowardly to human eyes, God saw Hezekiah’s humility and his acknowledgement of the one true God and rewards him for that!
In chapter 38 we see Hezekiah again boldly ask for healing from God. This bold request for healing shows Hezekiah has confidence in God’s power and knows God can do amazing things. It’s easy to think, “If I had experienced an answered prayer like Hezekiah I would always pray boldly!”, however, we experience answered prayers daily, but I know I am constantly reminding myself to pray boldly with the concerns I have! Maybe it’s just me, but when I get caught up in the brokenness of the world it doesn’t always come as my first instinct to offer up a prayer. Sometimes I may first try to find a solution on my own, other times I may just ignore the problem, or maybe I just sit in the problem! Although it may seem unlikely, Hezekiah can be a great example of how to pray boldly and have complete trust in God’s power to answer those bold requests.
When we look at our passage in 2 Thessalonians, we see Paul’s encouragement to bold and consistent prayer. In this chapter, Paul is specifically requesting prayer from the church to guard against the evil one and for the gospel to be spread and honored (v. 1 – 3). Paul also asks and reminds the church to pray for them to have strength to carry on in good things such as spreading the gospel and working hard to provide for immediate needs. These requests may not seem as bold as asking God to destroy an army, but I do find them much more relevant to our lives today, and still just as difficult to remember to pray for! Spreading the gospel is an easy thing to say, but doing so truly does require great effort, dedication, and strength. Asking for help in this is certainly a bold task, mainly because if you ask God to help you spread the gospel, He is going to put you in places to practice that! Paul writes “Do not grow weary in doing good” (v. 13), which tells me to expect that doing good will be wearisome. In this letter we can see the benefit in not only praying bold requests for ourselves, but also praying boldly to encourage our brothers and sisters.
You may not know, but the Church of God has over 600 fellowships of believers outside of the United States. We have a LOT of brothers and sisters in Christ that can constantly use our prayers for strength, encouragement, and deliverance. If you are interested in knowing more about our fellow believers, I encourage you to go to https://lhicog.com/ to learn more about what bold prayers you can bring to God on their behalf!
One thought I had (and maybe you did too) during today’s reading was ‘What about when prayers aren’t answered?’ I prayed about this thought, and here is what I felt based on our reading for today: We must faithfully know that God’s purpose is greater than our own. I do not believe there are UNanswered prayers, but rather prayers that have an answer yet to come or an answer we do not want to hear. There are other stories in the Bible where bold prayers are not answered the way that people want or when they want… I think of David and Bathsheba’s son dying after David prayed and fasted, Hannah diligently praying for her future son to be born, or Jesus himself who prayed to not have to go through the horrible crucifixion process! We may not be able to comprehend the purpose God has, but we are always invited to pray with boldness and faith. We are also invited to pray for “peace in every way” (v. 16) for ourselves and our fellow believers when the prayers don’t result in what we want or when we want them. I look forward to a day when we will never have to bring another bold request to God because we will be living in a perfect Kingdom where all believers can constantly rejoice in God’s holy presence and perfection! Until that day, let’s continue to boldly pray and praise our amazing YHWH.
-Sarah (Blanchard) Johnson