Nehemiah - Prayerful Preparation

Nehemiah 1:4-11 (ESV) - 4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6  let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. 7  We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9  but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10  They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah’s holy discontent led him straight into prayerful preparation before speaking to the king. His very soul is seared by the tragic news from Jerusalem and all he can do is weep, fast and cry out to God. Nehemiah is absolutely broken hearted and so he turns to the only place he can knowing that God would make a way when all he could see were the broken walls of Jerusalem.

He knows he must do something, but he will not do a thing until he prays first. The task ahead is too great for him; after all he is cup bearer to a king hundreds of miles away from Jerusalem! It seems like the people who remain in that once great city have no interest in rebuilding the walls, so Nehemiah realises that if he doesn’t turn to God for help then the walls of Jerusalem will remain in a heap and her people will remain in shame.  

Nehemiah’s prayer in is very enlightening and highlights 4 things:

  1. His dependence on God
  2. His repentance for the part he has played in Israel’s sinfulness
  3. His gratitude for what God has done in the past as he looks back at Israel’s past
  4. His confidence that God will hear his prayer and grant him success.

Nehemiah really did face mission impossible, but he turns his focus onto God and sees that his God is much greater than any mountain he has to face. He even refers to the king of Persia as a mere man someone who would have been considered part divine and worshipped as a god by his subjects. It would have been easy for Nehemiah to get caught up in this being so close to the king. However, he reminds himself that his God is the God all creation and that this king was a mere man. 

Whatever difficulties you may be facing currently, take comfort that God is greater than them all. Look up to him in dependence and place your confidence in him looking forward to the great things He has in store for you. Nehemiah was about to face many challenges, but God would grant him success and victory. Nehemiah is no different to you or I. When we turn to prayer we will see God move in His time and in His perfect way. Trust God, like Nehemiah obviously did, and He will come through for you!

Romans 8:31 (ESV) - ... If God is for us, who can be against us?