READING: Nehemiah 1-3, Acts 2:1-21
“Please, Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and to that of Your servants who delight to revere Your name.”
Nehemiah, knowing that he wanted to return to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls, prepared to ask the king for permission to make that trip. He knew his request would be a big one for the king’s cupbearer, so he first prayed before he made the request: “So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it’” (Neh. 2:4-5). That prayer was likely only a short one, but powerful nonetheless. Nehemiah knew he needed God’s guidance and blessing on his request, and he sought God’s grace immediately before making his request to the king. God heard that prayer and moved the heart of the king to affirm Nehemiah’s request.
We learn earlier in this book that Nehemiah was by nature a praying man. Having heard about the decay of Jerusalem, his first response was to grieve and pray: “When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:4). He knew that confession and intercession were in order, so he sought the face of God in grief. Food meant nothing to him as he interceded for his people. Knowing that God alone could move the heart of the king to allow him to return, Nehemiah first asked God to show compassion and “give Your servant success today” (Neh. 1:11).
So, Nehemiah was a man with prayer in his DNA. In fact, he prayed for God’s compassion before he spoke to the king, and then he prayed again immediately before verbalizing his request to the king. His intercession was deep and moving, and his quickly verbalized prayer before the king was surely equally personal and powerful. It seems that prayer was Nehemiah’s “go to” move – a natural, ongoing action of his life rather than simply a reactive response to a problem. Prayer was who he was more than what he did.
For two days in a row, we have now read the prayers of Ezra and Nehemiah. I am reminded again that I need to pray more. I want it in my DNA.
- Set aside time to pray more today.
- Pray before every activity you do today.
PRAYER: “God, You are the ‘great and awe-inspiring God’ (Neh. 1:5). Thank You for allowing me to speak to You.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Nehemiah 4-7, Acts 2:22-47