READING: Nehemiah 1-3
I wish prayer were easier to do. In fact, I wish that I woke up praying, spent the day praying, and fell asleep praying. That’s the sense you get about Nehemiah’s prayer life — a life that echoed in prayer as evidenced in the book that carries his name. He may have been a significant player in the court of King Artaxerxes, but he realized he was still nothing without the power of God in his life. God was His warrior, as we might expect.
In the first three chapters of this book, three things drive Nehemiah to prayer:
- Grieving and confessing the sins of his people: “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” (Neh 1:6). We believers who are concerned about our country would be wise to learn to pray with this same kind of heart. Sometimes, we simply need to cry over our wrong.
- Desiring to secure God’s favor to honor His name: “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” (Neh 1:11). Nehemiah needed the Lord’s favor with the king, but he wanted that favor in order to magnify the real King. How much more might we accomplish if we seek God’s favor before we act?
- Seeking the Lord’s immediate wisdom and courage: “So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king . . .” (Neh 2:4-5). Yes, Nehemiah had prayed before going to the king, but prayer stayed on his lips at all times. You get the sense that his heart was always only a syllable away from praying.
As a result of his praying, Nehemiah knew he could say with assurance to the people, “Come let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem” (Neh 2:17) even while he also announced to his enemies, “The God of heaven will give us success” (Neh 2:20). That, it seems to me, is the way to live as God’s people: marching forward in victory without fear of the enemy. That comes only when we seek God’s face and serve Him continually.
- Take a good look at your prayer life. Are you as attentive to God as He is to you?
- Spend time confessing sins today, praying for yourself, your family, and your country.
PRAYER: “God, may Your gracious hand be upon me today as I lead and serve others. Be attentive to my prayers.”
TOMORROW¹S READING: Nehemiah 4-6