Prayer is as essential as air and water if we are to maintain a spiritual life of constant contact with God. If we don’t make that connection, no matter how sincere our intentions, we will not see a change in the circumstances of our life. We must pray! James 4:2 tells us: “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”
During a dark hour of Israel’s history, the Assyrians demanded heavy tribute from King Hezekiah. In response, Hezekiah stripped the temple of its gold and silver in order to meet that demand. Still, that was not enough; the Assyrians mounted an attack against the city. When King Hezekiah was informed in a letter from the king of Assyria that Israel would be destroyed if the demands were not met, he took the letter to the Temple. There, in the presence of God, he spread the letter on the altar and prayed: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. . . . Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone”(2 Kings 19:15–16, 19).
God answered the king’s prayer with an overwhelming victory! The Bible says the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. In great gratitude for God’s mercy, Hezekiah cleansed, repaired, and reopened the Temple of God. Worship to Jehovah was restored, daily sacrifices were resumed, and the Passover Feast was again celebrated by the nation of Israel.
Hezekiah’s prayer was based on a promise of God. Years earlier, when King Solomon had prayed at the dedication of the Temple, God revealed himself and His plan to Solomon with great power: “Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually” (2 Chronicles 7:12–16).
Isaiah encouraged the Israelites with “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’” (Isaiah 58:9). The promises of God are just as sure today as they have ever been, and He still hears and answers when we cry out for deliverance.