July 16

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD. Isaiah 37:14-15

This chapter of Isaiah contains an interesting story about King Hezekiah.  The Assyrians were attacking Jerusalem with a large army and beginning to overpower it.  The situation looked hopeless.  King Sennacherib ridiculed Hezekiah mercilessly.  Sennacherib made fun of Hezekiah’s misfortune by writing him a letter filled with insults about God in order to make the devout king lose all hope.  Instead of losing hope, Hezekiah went into the temple, spread out the letter in front of God, bowed down with his face touching the ground, and prayed a heartfelt prayer.

Learning to pray when there’s an emergency or when something is frightening us requires a lot of discipline.  Instead of praying, we tend to torture ourselves with anxiety and worry.  All we can think about is trying to get rid of the problem.  The devil often tricks us when temptation or suffering first begins, whether we are dealing with spiritual or physical matters.  He immediately barges in and makes us so upset about the problem that we become consumed by it.  In this way, he tears us away from praying.  When we finally begin to pray, we have already tortured ourselves half to death.  The devil knows what prayer can accomplish.  That’s why he creates so many obstacles and makes it so inconvenient for us that we never get around to prayer.

On the basis of this story in Isaiah, we should get into the habit of falling on our knees and spreading out our needs in front of God the moment we have an emergency or become frightened.  Prayer is the very best medicine there is.  It always works and never fails—if we would just us it!

Martin Luther, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional

Edited by James C. Galvin

Timeless insights from one of the most important people in church history. Resounding across the centuries, Martin Luther’s prolific writings as a pastor, theologian, scholar, Bible translator, father, and more, remain powerful and richly relevant. Faith Alone is a treasury of accessible devotionals taken from Luther’s best writings and sermons from the years 1513 through 1546. This carefully updated translation retains the meaning, tone, and imagery of Luther’s works such as this gem:

Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. Faith should be first. It is faith—without good works and prior to good works—that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone. —Martin Luther

Through daily readings, Luther’s straightforward approach challenges you to a more thoughtful faith. Read one brief section a day or explore themes using the subject index in the back of the book. Faith Alone will deepen your understanding of Scripture and help you more fully appreciate the mystery of faith.

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