In Isaiah 38:4-8 we read:
Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.
On this occasion Hezekiah, the King of Judah, had been very ill and was sobbing in his prayer to God. In the prayer the only request mentioned is that the Lord would remember how Hezekiah was faithful to Him. God heard his prayer and gave him a sign in the form of a miracle in which the shadow on a sun dial had been turned back several degrees. It was a symbol that was a reminder of God’s promise to the king.
Hezekiah’s example shows us that you cannot withhold your heart from God when you pray. We should not expect God to bless our petitions when we do not have the faith to live in obedience to His commandments. It would be like getting in trouble at school or work and then asking for a special favor from our professor or employer. Everything that we need to know about His will is revealed in scripture and if we do not read it then our prayers are nothing more than stupid questions someone asks because he wasn’t listening. Obedience is a sign of trust. As the hymn says, “trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” You are trusting in the Lord and that means you will approach His throne with a right heart and with confidence. 1 John 3:21,22 tells us that with a right heart we can ask God knowing that we will receive answers from Him because we are already doing something that pleases Him, namely, obeying His commandments.
There is no way that I can adequately say how profoundly comforting it is to know that God sees us and hears our prayers. The temptation to impatience and doubt is strong. Fear metastasizes in the silence. Then worry grips us and it takes great power to deliver us. Stories like this one about Hezekiah, and many others, are important because they provide a solid basis for our faith. It is the objective reference point we need to guide us—like an instrument in a plane when you’re flying in low visibility. Without these instruments of the scriptures we quickly become disoriented and lose our way. I can always go back to these stories to remind myself that God hears me when I pray. If I walk in obedience then I can confidently ask Him anything, according to His will, and know that I will receive it from Him.