Righteousness in Prayer
Isaiah 37:14-20
And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD…

Hezekiah's was the effectual prayer of a righteous man. It was effectual because it was right-minded. Had he gone to the Lord in an unacceptable spirit, he would have met with a very different response. Our prayers may be unexceptionable, so far as time, place, demeanour, and even language are concerned, and yet they may be fruitless, because our mind is not attuned to the true spirit of devotion. We have here five features which should always characterize our approach to God.

I. A DEEP SENSE OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE. "That dwellest between the cherubim;" i.e. the God that has come down and has taken up his abode in the midst of us - a God at hand and not afar off. Hezekiah spread the letter before the Lord (ver. 14), before the Present One. It is a point of the first importance that we should feel, in prayer, that God is with us in very deed and truth; that we stand in his near presence; that the angels who inhabit the heavenly kingdom are not more truly, though they may be more consciously, before him than are we as we take his Name on our lips and breathe our petitions into his ear.

II. A REVERENTIAL REMEMBRANCE OF HIS MAJESTY. "Thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth." Our boldness in prayer (Hebrews 4:16) must stop short of anything like irreverence. Our Lord himself was "heard in that he feared (Hebrews 5:7); much more does it become us to think and to speak with holy awe when we address the Majesty of heaven; we must ever have in mind that it is the one only God, the Lord of hosts, the Infinite and Eternal One, to whom we are addressing ourselves (see Genesis 18:23-32).

III. FULL CONFIDENCE IN HIS DIVINE POWER. Thou hast made heaven and earth." To doubt God's power to interpose on our behalf, by whatever restraints we imagine that power to be limited, must be painful to him, and must invalidate our prayer. To have a firm assurance that God is able to sustain, to supply, to deliver us; to feel that no obstacles of any kind can prevent his interposition on our behalf, if he only sees it to be wise and right to intervene, is to be right-minded in devotion.

IV. A HOLY CONFIDENCE IN HIS DIVINE INTEREST IN US. Hezekiah addressed Jehovah as the "God of Israel" (ver. 16); i.e. the God who had a peculiar interest in Israel, "the chosen people," his own "inheritance," "a people near unto him" (Psalm 148:14). We place ourselves in accord with God's will concerning us, not when we presuppose that the most urgent entreaties have to be made to secure his interest in us and in our affairs, but rather when we assume the fact that we are the objects of his deep solicitude, that we are near to his heart, and that he is disposed to do all that is needful for our present well-being and future blessedness.

V. UNSELFISHNESS OF SPIRIT. Hezekiah pleaded with the Lord, not his own and his people's extremities, but the dishonour which had been cast o,, the Name of Jehovah, and the need there was for that Name to be glorified before the nations (vers. 17-20). We may plead with God our own necessities, both temporal and spiritual; but we are in the tree mood, in the right spirit, when we rise above all selfish considerations.

1. We do well to pray for our suffering and necessitous friends.

2. We do better to pray for our lost and perishing race.

3. We do best to pray for the extension of our Saviour's kingdom and the exaltation of his holy Name. The prayer which the Lord taught his disciples may teach us the "order of merit" in regard to our desires when we bow down at the throne of grace. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.

WEB: Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it. Then Hezekiah went up to Yahweh's house, and spread it before Yahweh.

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