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I became familiar with Ed Silvoso when I was part of the City-Wide Prayer Movement in Kansas City. Silvoso was a leader of a significant revival movement in his home country of Argentina.
His most important contribution to the church is in the way he combines prayer, evangelism, and community transformation.
After completing his doctorate at Fuller Seminary, Silvoso was struck with a life-threatening illness. He believed he had so much to give to God’s work and wondered why God allowed this illness to attack him.
He desperately needed to know God’s plan for his life and set aside three days to fast, pray, and seek God’s will. He heard nothing from God for three days, but on the way home God said, “You will live.”
God’s word allowed Silvoso to undergo a time of intense pain and physical disability. Yet, he lived and is still alive at 75 years old.
Some 2700 years ago, another leader had a similar experience as Ed Silvoso. Hezekiah learned from Isaiah that he was about to die.
Hezekiah’s Date With Death
Hezekiah’s near-death story is captured by Isaiah’s writings.
“In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover'” (Isaiah 38.1).
Like Silvoso, Hezekiah was a young man in his late-30’s when he became ill to the point of death. The Assyrians had been overcome by God’s power and there was a bright future ahead.
The king’s prayer about his illness is a model of how to pray about sickness.
“Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord:
“‘Remember now, O Lord, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’
“And Hezekiah wept bitterly” (Isaiah 38.2-3).
Verses 2-3 are a summary of the king’s prayer. His prayer of praise is found later in the chapter.
The summary reveals that Hezekiah had a long-term relationship with God. This relationship is evident by the way he fully trusted God during the Assyrian crisis (Isaiah 36-37).
The king was able to state how he had been faithful and trusting in their relationship.
Both Silvoso and Hezekiah were reliable friends of God. They maintained their relationship with God through prayer, trust, and obedience.
When a crisis comes – and we all can plan on a crisis coming at some time in our lives – it is best to have a friendship relationship with God. The last thing you want is to have a long-distance mere acquaintance with God in a time of need.
God is willing and able to communicate with his friends. In the case of Silvoso, God gave him an internal affirmation of his will. With the king, God spoke through the prophet.
“Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life'” (Isaiah 38.4-5).
There is no sweeter sound than to hear, “I have heard your prayer.” When God hears our prayer, all is well.
Another quite comforting phrase is the message, “I have seen your tears.”
On multiple occasions, I have told a weeping family member or friend that God sees our tears. I believe that our tears are some of the most effective “prayers” that we can pray.
O. Hallesby’s book, “On Prayer,” has greatly influenced my prayer life. Hallesby points to a newborn baby whose only way to get their mother’s attention is to cry.
Similarly, our tears are noticed by God, and as Jesus said: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7.11).
After Hezekiah recovered, he praised God. Surely, this public act strengthened the faith of all in Jerusalem.
“Before and after” testimonies reflect God’s love and saving power. They are a joyful part of life at Maywood Baptist Church.
Hezekiah began with the “before” part of his illness.
I said: In the noontide of my days
I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
for the rest of my years.
I said, I shall not see the Lord
in the land of the living;
I shall look upon mortals no more
among the inhabitants of the world. (Isaiah 38.10-11)
He described his helplessness and need. There was no pride or self-sufficiency in his words. The king revealed to his subjects his pain and vulnerability.
I cry for help until morning;
like a lion he breaks all my bones;
from day to night you bring me to an end. (Isaiah 38.13)
He was transparent, as he described his desire for God’s help.
O Lord, by these things people live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh, restore me to health and make me live! (Isaiah 38.16)
More than 2700 years later, we can learn from Hezekiah’s prayer. His willingness to publicly proclaim his need and his desperate prayer show us how we can follow his example.
God is worthy of praise. This is always the case. His character alone should make him the object of praise.
When God definitively acts on our behalf, praise must be given. King Hezekiah turned the attention away from his majesty and rightfully focused it on God.
The living, the living, they thank you,
as I do this day;
fathers make known to children
The Lord will save me,
and we will sing to stringed instruments
all the days of our lives,
at the house of the Lord. (Isaiah 38.19-20)
Medicine is not Excluded
Isaiah ordered the king’s doctors to apply a healing potion to him (Isaiah 38.21).
Rudy Ross and I talk about Isaiah on YouTube. Twelve years ago, Rudy was diagnosed with stage four cancer. In today’s video, Rudy speaks of how God has extended his life.
Rudy has prayed, obeyed God, and received medical treatment. God has extended his life and enabled him to work 60 hours a week at age 71.
I write these words to emphasize God’s power, but also that trust in God does not eliminate the gift of medicine.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.