Learn About/Subscribe:
Christian Union

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

We don't know for sure King Hezekiah's age when the prophet Isaiah announced to him that he would not recover from his illness, and that he should therefore put his affairs in order. He probably was about 39 years old because he died at age 54, and had no heir at the time. The King of Judah had not been perfect, yet had generally been a good king, but took the news hard. The Scriptures record that he lay on his bed, turned toward the wall, prayed and wept bitterly.

There are three accounts of this episode in the Scriptures (2 Kings 20:1-11, Isaiah 38: 1-22, 2 Chronicles 32:24-26), but none explain in detail why Hezekiah reacted the way he did. Perhaps it was indeed because he was relatively young and had many dreams he desired to see fulfilled. Perhaps he saw the word as a sign of God's disapproval on his life, and he wanted another chance to be wholehearted in his devotion to God.

Whatever the reason, God heard his prayer and immediately responded. Isaiah was on his way out of the building, having barely left the presence of King Hezekiah when the word of the LORD came to him. As a prophet Isaiah would regularly receive revelation from God, sometimes in visions, and possibly also in what the Bible calls words of knowledge, and even hearing God's audible voice. The message from God was immediate and actionable so Isaiah turned around mid-stride and went back to see King Hezekiah. He announced that God had heard his prayer and was giving him 15 more years of life. What incredible news! The king even asked for a miraculous sign to confirm this word from God, which God generously granted. Within the course of a few minutes, the King went from news of his impending death, to assurances that he had 15 more years of life.

This immediate responsiveness of God to prayer may be surprising to many today who do not feel that God is very close or that He really hears our prayers. Of course, God doesn't always respond to our prayers the way we would like, but there is no doubt that God hears everything we say to Him and that he considers seriously the requests we put before Him. If this were true under the Old Covenant, when the mediating priests were imperfect and the sacrifices were imperfect, how much more is this true now when we have the perfect mediator in Jesus and the perfect sacrifice in Jesus as well!

Much is available to the Christian who brings his or her concerns to the Almighty God for consideration. James 4:2 says, "You do not have because you do not ask" and James 5:16-18 encourages us to pray by teaching: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit."

Every prayer you lift up to God is immediately heard and considered by Him. Take the story of Isaiah and King Hezekiah as encouragement to continue to lift up to Him every concern you may have. Continue to pray diligently and humble yourself through fasting, because our generous God loves to answer our prayers.

Matt Bennett