READING: Nehemiah 1-5, Acts 12:6-13:12
I find it amazing how God moves in our hearts, burdens us for people around us, drives us to our knees on their behalf, and then responds to our prayers. In fact, I think the privilege of praying for one another – especially when someone is hurting or straying – is one of the greatest privileges the Lord gives us. That kind of praying, though, begins with a burden.
Nehemiah showed that kind of burden when he learned that the city of Jerusalem lay in ruins. Nehemiah tells us what he did then: “I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of the heavens” (Neh 1:4). He grieved over the sin of his people and its consequences, and thus sought permission from the king to return to Jerusalem to check its status. Before he spoke to the king, though, he prayed, “Give your servant success today, and grant him compassion in the presence of this man” (Neh 1:11).
Nehemiah had never shown sadness before King Artaxerxes, and the king recognized that something was wrong. He asked, “Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart”(Neh 2:2). Nehemiah apparently couldn’t hide the depth of his burden over God’s people.
That’s what God does in our lives, too. He gives us love toward others that includes a burden over their spiritual condition. Sometimes, in fact, we grieve the sin of others more than they do. We long for them to turn to God, and hiding that burden is difficult when it’s real. It’s through those burdens and our corresponding intercessory prayer, however, that God changes others.
PRAYER: “Father, please increase my burden for non-believers and straying Christians.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Nehemiah 6-7, Acts 13:13-41