There was the sound of rushing feet in the hallway. A few minutes later, a messenger burst into the room.
“A message, Sir, from the Assyrians,” he panted slightly and handed the sealed letter to Hezekiah, King of Israel.
Hezekiah waited for the messenger to withdraw before opening the letter and reading it.
The words shook Hezekiah to the core. He quickly left for the temple of the Lord, letter in hand.
Once inside, Hezekiah spread out the letter before him, smoothing the wrinkled creases with shaking hands. The dreaded Assyrians were on their way. There was no earthly help that could save Israel now. The letter from the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, was meant to intimidate him, and that it did. But it did something else too.
It drove Hezekiah in desperation to the house of the Lord.
And just as he literally presented the physical letter of his enemy before the Lord, Hezekiah also presented his worries before the God of Israel. Hezekiah acknowledged the bleak reality before him, but reminds the Lord of his own character:
“Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God,” pleads Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:20).
And the Lord responds to Hezekiah with a plan to strike down Sennacherib and defend Israel, “Because you have prayed to me” (verse 21).
Because you have prayed to me.
How many times do I not pray because I don’t think it will make a difference? I’m sure my prayers won’t move God to action. Instead of presenting my worries and concerns to God like Hezekiah did, I let them fester in my heart. But God, in his dealings with Hezekiah—not once but twice—seems to change his plans after Hezekiah prays to the Lord.
“I have heard your prayers,” God says in the very next chapter when Hezekiah pleads for his life in the face of illness. “I have seen your tears.”
God constantly reveals himself as a God who sees us. Hagar called him, El roi, Hebrew for God of seeing (Genesis 16:13). Or as David put it, a God who bottles our tears (Ps. 56:8). He sees us right where we are, is with us in our hardships, and hears our concerns.
So instead of being standoffish or thinking my prayers don’t matter or won’t change anything, today, I’m reminded to go to him. And by that I don’t mean to imply that my faithfulness in prayer will equal me getting answers the way I want. It won’t necessarily. Nor will my faithlessness suspend his faithfulness to me. It won’t.
But he does want to hear from me. To be in relationship with me. To like Hezekiah spread my worries before him, because he hears. He sees.