Does God answer prayer? Does the eternally immutable, unchanging God, bend at the request of mortal man? When the creature beseeches the Creator, is the heart of Almighty God moved? Ask Hezekiah!
Hezekiah, the great, great… great grandson of David, and the great, great… great grandfather of Jesus, was twenty-five years old when he became king in the southern kingdom, and he reigned as king for twenty-nine years (2 Kings 18:2). Hezekiah was a good king who “relied on the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. He remained faithful to the Lord and did not turn from following him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him, and wherever he went he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him” (2 Kings 18:5-7).
Seven years before Hezekiah ascended to the throne, the world’s superpower, the evil empire of Assyria, had destroyed Samaria and carried the ten tribes of the northern kingdom into captivity. When Hezekiah learned of Assyria’s plot to come against Jerusalem, he interceded for God’s chosen people. “Lord God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you are God—you alone—of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. Listen closely, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see… Now, Lord our God, please save us from his power so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are God—you alone” (2 Kings 19:15–19).
Oh, it’s true! “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16, KJV). God heard the prayer of Hezekiah! “That night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!” (2 Kings 19:35). God is All-Powerful and Always-Faithful!
“In those days Hezekiah became terminally ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your house in order, for you are about to die; you will not recover’ ” (2 Kings 20:1). God’s prophet, Isaiah, an inspired messenger sent from the All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Always-Wise God, came to the king to deliver Heaven’s message. “You will not recover!” You’re gonna die! Your expiration date has arrived!
“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, ‘Please, Lord, remember how I have walked before you faithfully and wholeheartedly and have done what pleases you’ ” (2 Kings 20:2-3). Hezekiah wept and prayed, begging God to change His mind, to alter His sovereign plan, to allow him to live. “Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: ‘Go and tell Hezekiah, “This is what the Lord God of your ancestor David says: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I am going to add fifteen years to your life. And I will rescue you” ’ ” (Isaiah 38:4–6).
Does God answer prayer? Yes, of course. Does he answer our prayers because he owes us His allegiance? Is He a Jeanie in a bottle with three wishes? Does He respond to our request because we’re good? No! No! No! Though God is indeed sovereign, He is still moved by the faith-filled prayers of His people … and … God is infinitely gracious!