2 Kings 19:19 “Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”
Somewhere in the centuries from David to Hezekiah, monotheism took root. David certainly had a grasp of it, but it was in a very polytheistic context. Hezekiah has just said that it was no wonder the Assyrians were able to destroy the gods of other countries because they were “only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands.” (verse 18) Here he’s asking God for deliverance, not for the sake of Judah but to demonstrate that God is who He really is. It’s no wonder God delighted to answer that prayer! Even today we get far better results when we pray because of who God is, rather than because of what we happen to want. Self-centered prayer is extremely common. I don’t think it’s bad, but I think it’s the lowest level of prayer. We grow spiritually when we pray for others on the basis of who God is, and not just to make ourselves look good. It does feel very good when God grants what we ask for, but if we treat that like a merit badge, we lose the real benefit. Hezekiah gives us an example of what God-centered prayer looks like, and we do well to emulate it.
I am often asked to pray in public situations, precisely because prayer is as natural to me as breathing. However, any time I take pride in that, my prayer ceases to be genuine. Jesus had strong words for those who pray to be seen and heard by people. (Matthew 6:5-6) I am not to hesitate to pray in the presence of others, because I often experience people being blessed by the words that come from my mouth, but my focus must be on God, first and foremost, even more than on the situation about which I am praying. Like Hezekiah, my concern should be that people would know God for who He is and so give Him the love and glory He alone deserves. If I am focused on what I want out of the situation, my prayer is blunted at the very least.
Father, I am often brought back to how Jesus taught us to pray. I do ask that Your name be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done perfectly, in every part of my life, in every part of this church, and throughout the world, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!