Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Preparation & Prayer

Nehemiah's Wall

By Dennis Pollock

As you read through the Old Testament you learn much about the failure of Israel to obey God. Despite being called out as a chosen people and given amazing promises of blessing and success as a reward for serving and obeying God, they failed again and again, and paid a heavy price for their disobedience. As you read through the books of First and Second Kings and First and Second Chronicles you encounter king after king who was unfaithful to the Lord and followed after the evil ways of the nations around them. It could be kind of depressing, except that sprinkled throughout the history of Israel like sparkling gems are accounts of godly kings and great revivals in which God showed His power in a wonderful and dramatic manner.

One of these accounts has to do with King Hezekiah. During his life and reign Israel existed as two separate nations. North Israel took on the name, Israel, and south Israel, which included the capital city, Jerusalem, was known as Judah. Hezekiah reigned over Judah during the traumatic time when Assyria was devastating the land. Northern Israel fell quickly, and the majority of the people were taken north into captivity.

Jerusalem held out for quite a while. Finally Sennacherib, king of Assyria, marshalled his armies to come and overcome the last major obstacle to his complete dominance over all of Israel. Hezekiah had been a very devout king, one of the best in the checkered history of Israel. The Bible tells us:

And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. (2 Chronicles 31:20-21).

Terrible Challenge

One might suppose that when someone is as godly and devoted as Hezekiah, God would so protect and watch over him that He would not allow fearful challenges to ever come near him, but it was not true then, just as it is not true now. Hezekiah faced the challenge of his life when Assyria’s King Sennacherib showed up on his doorstep with all his army, prepared to devour the remnant of little Judah.

As Sennacherib drew near, Hezekiah did what any wise king would do – he made diligent preparations for the battle that was to come. The Bible says:

And he strengthened himself, built up all the wall that was broken, raised it up to the towers, and built another wall outside; also he repaired the Millo in the City of David, and made weapons and shields in abundance. Then he set military captains over the people… (2 Chronicles 32:5-6).

This makes perfect sense to any thinking person: if you are about to face a superior enemy, you had better prepare well for it. Boxers prepare before their boxing matches, golfers practice diligently before playing in major tournaments, and law students study day and night before taking the bar exam. But strangely, sometimes Christians assume that because we put our trust in God, there is no need for us to do anything further. God will do it all; our only need is to pray and believe.

I don’t know where people get this, but they certainly don’t get it from the Bible. God encourages us to pray for sure, but He also uses means to bring about His mighty deliverances. The means may differ with each challenge and individual, but there are almost surely some means for us to employ when we are in the fight of our lives. In this case Hezekiah looked around and saw that the walls of the city were in disrepair, and appointed crews of construction workers to restore and strengthen the walls. He made an inventory of the available weapons for his army and saw that there were not nearly enough. He hastily put together little “factories” to build more bows and arrows, spears, slingshots, swords and shields. If they were going to have to fight mighty Assyria, they weren’t going to go out to battle with empty hands.

“What Do I Do?”

Whenever we face a challenge these days, we would do well to emulate King Hezekiah. One of the major steps toward victory is simply to ask the Lord, “What should I do?” There will nearly always be something to do. And this not only applies to life-threatening challenges, but also to divine opportunities. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will not even wait for us to ask; He will begin to stir our hearts to prepare ourselves, even without always telling us the full reason for that preparation.

For many years I have produced video reports about the African missions that we do. For most of the early years the videos were pretty primitive. I learned just enough about cameras, microphones, and video editing to put together a simple video showing a little preaching, a bit of narration, and some pictures and scenes from that particular mission. It was crude at first. The lighting was too dim, the audio was sometimes in and out, and the video resolution was fuzzy. Still, God used those videos to help our supporters see what we were doing and moved some to donate generously to our ministry, which enabled us to continue the work.

But at some point, I felt the need to really step up my game in the area of video production. I began watching YouTube videos about filming, cameras, microphones, video editing, and audio editing. It became a near-obsession. I spent many hours, perhaps hundreds of hours in front of my computer on YouTube learning the ways of video production. I watched comparison videos, pitting one camera against another or one microphone against another. I learned the pros and cons of 4K cameras vs HD cameras. I learned the difference between a dynamic microphone vs a condenser microphone, and a shotgun mic vs a lavalier mic. I learned how to take an audio file and use compression to level out the volume and noise removal to wipe out the annoying buzz or hiss that accompanies the track. I learned how to record a video with both the camera and a separate audio recorder, and then to sync and replace the camera’s audio (which is always lousy) with the recording by the audio recorder (which is always superior).

During this learning process I was sometimes struck by the thought: “What’s the point of all this? Am I not learning far more than I really need? After all, I’m a preacher, not a videographer.” But somehow, I could hardly bring myself to stop learning. It just seemed the Lord’s leading, even though I had no real idea how the Lord would use it in the future.

At one of our board meetings, the wife of one of our board members challenged me to start posting videos regularly on YouTube. Up until then I had only posted an occasional video report about our African missions on YouTube, but otherwise had paid little attention. Although by now I had watched a lot of YouTube videos, I knew little about it from the side of creating videos and posting them regularly. But I could not forget her challenge. I decided to look into the process. I ended up focusing on two separate channels. The first channel would feature my devotional articles, shortened and condensed to run about six minutes or so. The second channel would host videos I created about overcoming diabetes, a ministry which God had used in wonderful ways in two books I had written.

Today both channels have grown significantly (although the diabetes channel is the “big brother), and I am posting videos every week. My time spent in recording, video editing, and audio editing has increased tremendously and clearly my preparation time watching all those technology YouTube videos was not wasted. I now realize that God had this in mind all along. While I was watching one YouTube video after another, and sometimes worrying that I was wasting my time, God was preparing me for a platform to honor His name through videos. As was the case with Hezekiah, I had to use means to achieve God’s ends. Today my videos have been viewed by many thousands of people, far more than those I preached to when I was a pastor.

Time for Prayer

Getting back to Hezekiah, when the king of Assyria issued a mocking challenge, insisting that the God in whom they trusted would not be able to deliver them, we find that Hezekiah took the other necessary step. He had made his preparations; now it was time for prayer. The Bible says:

Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven (2 Chronicles 32:20).

To prepare and not pray is arrogance. To pray but not prepare is presumption and foolishness. But to prepare and to pray is wisdom. Hezekiah got it exactly right. And he decided if he was going to have a prayer meeting, he needed a godly partner. He had no New Testament to tell him, “if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). But he instinctively knew his chances of touching heaven would be greatly enhanced by enlisting the prayers of the godly prophet, Isaiah.

How long did this prayer meeting last? Exactly what kind of prayers did they offer? We can only imagine. I would love to be able to go back in time and silently observe this prayer alliance between king and prophet, as they sought the divine assistance of the God of Israel. But however long they prayed, and whatever phrases and petitions they employed, it clearly achieved its goal. Someone has said, “When we pray (effectively) God does things for us that He would not have done, had we not prayed.” That was exactly the case regarding that prayer meeting so long ago. Two men, who both loved and served God, took some time to talk to the invisible God of heaven, the Creator of all things. And God heard and respected their prayers and answered in a mighty fashion. The Scriptures tell us:

Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. Then the LORD sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land (2 Chronicles 22:20-21).


Notice the word “because” in this passage. Because these two men prayed, God sent an angel. Because they prayed that angel struck down all the leaders of Sennacherib’s army. It happened during the night, and when they woke up the next morning, thousands of men, and all their leaders were lying there without a pulse, not breathing… dead. This created such terror that the Assyrians wasted no time and beat a path back home. No more messing with Jerusalem for them. They got the point: Israel’s God was not Somebody to trifle with!

It turned out that Hezekiah’s preparations hadn’t been the means by which God had given the victory. No need for an army here; God had chosen this time to do it all Himself through one mighty, instantaneous execution of virtually every officer in the Assyrian army. But preparing had not been a waste of time. It would not have been pleasing to the Lord had the Israeli king simply took it easy, partied, and depended on prayer without seeing the need to do any kind of preparation. Occasionally God will bypass our preparations as He did here, but most of the time He will use them, and when the dust has cleared, we will see the wisdom of it, and be glad we prepared.

But our greatest preparations are not those which we make toward a specific goal or in facing a particular challenge. The greatest preparation of all is knowing Jesus Christ. Whether we are facing a mind-boggling opportunity or a heart-pounding challenge, the most effective way we can prepare ourselves is by acquainting ourselves thoroughly with Jesus Christ. By spending time reading of Him in the gospels, by fellowshipping with Him daily, and by confessing our trust in Him day by day, we are preparing ourselves. The greatest of all skills and knowledge is simply knowing Jesus, abiding in Him, and trusting Him as our Savior, Keeper, Wisdom, Anointer, good Shepherd, and so much more. He truly is our life; He is the hub from which the spokes of our service radiate, He is the Rock under whose shadow we hide when the storms of life threaten to overwhelm us, and He is the Savior who will acknowledge us to the Father on that Day as cleansed, justified, and chosen.



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