09/23/18 Prayers and Preparation

READING: Nehemiah 4

“So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard because of them day and night.”

Nehemiah 4:9

In Nehemiah’s day, the people were rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Their enemies, though, continued to fight against them, even aligning themselves with other groups to prepare for battle: “When Sanballat, Tobiah, and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the repair to the walls of Jerusalem was progressing and that the gaps were being closed, they became furious. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw it into confusion” (Neh. 4:7-8). The enemies of the people of God surrounded them, and the Hebrews had to determine what to do. 

What they did is both challenging and convicting: “So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard because of them day and night” (Neh. 4:9). On one hand, they prayed and sought God’s help. On the other hand, they established a military guard to watch over them continually. They had apparently learned the necessary balance between divine intervention and human effort, between trusting God and working wisely, and between prayer and preparation. 

All of us could learn from the Hebrews of long ago. Some of us today pray a lot, but we don’t do anything else other than “trust God.” Anything beyond just trusting God and waiting for Him to act feels like a man-centered approach to ministry. Others work hard, making great preparation–but we don’t pray very much. When we do pray about what we do, it’s generally asking God to bless something we’ve already completed.

Neither of these descriptions fits the balanced approach that Nehemiah describes. May God help us to both pray and to work as needed.   


  • Determine if you would have more likely been the prayer warrior or the defending guard. Ask God to help you do both. 
  • Realize that God is not worried about any enemies who try to stop you from serving Christ fully. He is sovereign.

PRAYER: “God, help me to follow You wisely today, both trusting and working.” 

TOMORROW’S READING: Nehemiah 11-13, Psalm 126

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