What does effective prayer look like in practice? There’s no “magic formula” that will cause a prayer to be answered in the exact way you want, but the Bible does illustrate that the attitude with which we approach prayer is important. In this devotional from Back to the Bible, Woodrow Kroll looks at one of the most remarkable examples of an effective prayer: King Hezekiah’s plea for help in the face of almost impossibly grim circumstances.
What was so effective about Hezekiah’s prayer? Kroll identifies seven key elements of the prayer. Here are the first three:
1. His prayer was instinctively spontaneous (verse 14). When Hezekiah received the threatening letter, he immediately spread it before the Lord. There was no thought of calling a committee or seeking the advice of others; Hezekiah knew what to do, as did Elisha (2 Kings 4:33) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:4) in similar situations.
2. His prayer was praisefully reverent (verse 15). He addressed Jehovah as, “O LORD God of Israel which dwellest between the cherubims, Thou art the God, even Thou alone.” The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9) indicates the same kind of reverence.
3. His prayer was intimately personal (verse 16). After he addressed God in a reverent fashion, Hezekiah said, “LORD, bow down Thine ear and hear.” He had recognized God as sovereign; now he addresses Him as friend.
Think about the last time you prayed about something. If you were to examine the words and attitude behind that prayer, would it resemble Hezekiah’s in humility and sincerity? When have you felt that your prayers were truly effective?