By Dr. Potter’s wife Jennifer.
Panic. Sometimes it’s just so easy to panic. Recently, while making my way through a study of Isaiah, I was reminded of the profound difference between panic and prayer.
I encourage you to read the rich storytelling in Isaiah 36 and 37 for yourself. My summary will not do it justice. Then, meditate upon the change in King Hezekiah’s response to the dire threat posed by Assyria upon the city of Jerusalem.
Basically, from a worldly perspective, Hezekiah and his city where in a horrific situation. Assyria was knocking at their gates (literally), and Assyria was used to getting its way – or else. They were a nation on the rise, and they were accustomed to doing as they wished with everyone else’s lives and property.
In the first encounter with Assyria’s threating words, Hezekiah and his advisors respond in absolute panic. This is despite the fact that Isaiah had already prophesied that God would indeed deliver the city from Assyria (see Isaiah 38:6 which takes place first in the timeline of history). Hezekiah is so panicked that he doesn’t even pray. He tells Isaiah to pray. Isaiah doesn’t pray. He merely repeats God’s previous promise (with some added detail). Isaiah was sure of God’s character and word.
Apparently, Assyria had to leave before making good on the threat toward Jerusalem in order to deal with some other recalcitrant, but they sent a nasty message reminding Hezekiah that the army of Assyria would return to make good on its words.
This time ,though, Hezekiah’s response is altered. He does not panic. In fact, he doesn’t even go to Isaiah for help. Instead, Hezekiah prays to God directly. He prays these opening lines. “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Is 37:16)
Throughout, his prayer is rooted in the nature and actions of His God. No longer is he the panicked king. He is now the king made strong because of faith in a God who is incomparable. God responds in a mighty fashion.
For me the take away included the following: Remembering to focus upon the nature of my God while praying instead of focusing upon the panic of overwhelming circumstances roots my prayers in my sovereign Lord’s character- not in my fear. May He continue to teach me to pray out of faith lodged in His unchanging nature. May I learn to stop the panic.