Hezekiah was a good man. He brought the nation of Judah back to God.
He refurbished the boarded up temple and opened it to worship.
He reestablished the service of the priests and Levites.
He reinstated the celebration of the Passover.
He pulled the plug on idolatry.
“[S]ince the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem” (2 Chr 30:26).
Of all the kings that descended from David, he was the greatest: “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses” (2 Kgs 18:5–6).
So it was a punch in the gut to him and the nation when his health went south. He was in his prime—only thirty-nine years old when he got sick. God sent Isaiah to him with this terrifying message: “Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover” (2 Kgs 20:1).
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed and wept. That touched God’s heart, and before Isaiah even got out of the palace court, the Lord told him to make a U-turn and beat it back to Hezekiah’s bedside and tell him he’d changed his mind: “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. . . . I will add fifteen years to your life” (2 Kgs 20:5–6).
God hears prayers and sees tears. And sometimes he changes his mind.
When the Israelites badgered Aaron to make a god to lead them, Moses was on the mountain receiving the Law tablets. God told him what his rebellious followers were doing, and said: “Now leave me alone so that my anger may turn against them and that I may destroy them.” Moses begged him not to: “Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. . . . Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened” (Ex 32:11–14). Moses entreated, and God relented.
There are times when we think God should intervene, but he doesn’t; or so it seems to us. But he always hears our prayers and always sees our tears.
Have any of your prayers caused God to change his mind? Maybe.
Before Hezekiah got sick, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was flexing his muscles and threatening to sack Jerusalem. Hezekiah laid the matter before God, and God did a number on the evil king: defended Jerusalem and destroyed Sennacherib. Why? “Because you have prayed to me,” he told Hezekiah (Is 37:21).
It was soon after Sennacherib’s threat that Hezekiah was waylaid with that terminal illness. Again he prayed, and God responded, saying he would patch him up and tack an extra fifteen years on to his life.
Prayer is powerful. So here’s your Prayer Power Pack for today:
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears (Ps 18:6).
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Rom 12:12).
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. . . . The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective (Jas 5:13, 16 NRSV).
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer (1 Pt 3:12).
When Hezekiah prayed, God changed his mind and reversed the verdict.
When you pray, God hears. When you weep, God sees. Your prayer might even cause him to change his mind.