"Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of My people, ‘This is what the Lord God of your ancestor David says: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the Lord’s temple. - 2 Kings 20:5
In this verse, we see the Lord provide Hezekiah with a promise for healing. Amazing! If only we could all have such a direct answer to our most heartfelt prayers. But even in this situation, God keeps him waiting for 3 days before he provides him with healing. I wonder how Hezekiah felt while he was waiting. Did he start to doubt if God’s healing would really happen?
In fact, he does doubt. Hezekiah asks God for proof that that he will heal him. God hears this request too, and provides him with miraculous certainty that he will come through for him.
For those of us still waiting in prayer, this passage throws up big questions. If God has decided to heal Hezekiah, why the waiting? If God has heard my prayer, why doesn’t he answer it?
We don’t always get a clear answer. In a lot of cases, we are kept waiting much longer than 3 days to see our pain end, and we don’t often get the direct reassurance that Hezekiah received. In the waiting, one thing we can hold on to with certainty is that God hears us. He hasn’t forgotten us.
It is difficult to keep praying while we are waiting. Sometimes, in our desperation we can start to view prayer as transactional. It isn’t wrong to ask God for what we want - we can see that in this verse. However, the ultimate purpose of prayer is not to ask things from God. God wants us close to him, and prayer can bring us near to his heart. Through praying, we can feel the comfort of a God who sees our tears. Psalms 56v8 repeats this message when it says -
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
God is paying attention to your tears and your prayers. You don’t have to fight to make yourself heard with Him. He is keeping track.
If you’re waiting for an answer to prayer, consider trying to set aside your frustrations as you pray today. Rest in prayer, just to feel God’s presence and comfort. If you’re finding that a challenge - try listening to “This Close” by Stephanie Gretzinger as you pray.