People of Prayer-Nehemiah
We read in the Bible about men who had great prayer relationships and wish that we could have the type of relationship that men in the Bible had with God. Nehemiah is usually not one of those men that we think about in this way. However, as we read about the life of Nehemiah, there are several things to notice about his walk with God. There are some things that he prayed to God about that we may struggle within our daily prayer lives.
1. He wept, fasted, and prayed over a great need.
Nehemiah 1:4 says “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” The news that Nehemiah heard concerning Jerusalem was so upsetting to him that he did three things: wept, prayed, and fasted. The prayer that he prayed is even recorded in Nehemiah 1 and is a model after which to pattern our prayers. He begins with adoration, makes confession of the sins of his nation, pleads the promises of God, mentions former mercies, and begs for pardoning mercy. Many times when we hear about or experience difficult circumstances in our life, we weep about it, but rarely do we pray or fast concerning the situation. Jesus said that this kind cometh not but by prayer and fasting. One of the ways to get God’s attention is to deny our flesh of what it wants (food) to prove to God that we want an answer to our prayers more than we want food.
2. He prayed for favor from the king.
Nehemiah 1:11 says, “Grant him (Nehemiah) mercy in the sight of this man.” Nehemiah wanted to do something about the problem in Jerusalem, but he was employed by the king, and the king would not want to let Nehemiah leave for several months. What did he do? He asked God for a heathen king’s heart to be changed to let Nehemiah go and help his people. Notice that because of his prayer, the king not only permitted Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem but furnished him with everything needful for the journey and for the success of the enterprise. Many times we complain about the political situation in our country, but how many times do we pray that God will change their heart and show favor toward the people of God? We may have an authority over us, and the situation is unfavorable toward us, but we do not ask God for help. We simply try to do it our way. Had Nehemiah done it his way, the walls of Jerusalem would not have been built.
3. He prayed that God would handle the enemy and defeat the wicked counsel.
After Nehemiah made the trip to Jerusalem, he met two men that became his enemies. Their names were Sanballat and Tobiah. Several times they tried to stop the great work that Nehemiah was trying to do. They plotted to kill him and hired what would now be called a lawyer to see if the decree from the king would stand up in court. Nehemiah took several precautions against them, but he mixed prayer with all he did. Nehemiah 4:4 says, "Hear, O our God, for we are despised; and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of our captivity." Later on, Sanballat and Tobiah hired a man to advise Nehemiah to sin and break God’s law concerning the temple. Nehemiah rejected his advice and prayed to God. Nehemiah 6:14 says, "My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear." Today, the Christian’s enemy is the devil. We can do as Nehemiah and take several precautions against his temptations, but we need God on our side to fight for us at all times. There are also times in which the advice we are given may come from an ungodly perspective. If we would do as Nehemiah and ask God to show us His way in our lives and resist the ungodly advice that is given, we would be wise.
4. He prayed for strength.
Nehemiah 6:9 says "Now there, O God, strengthen my hands." His enemies were doing everything to make Nehemiah and his workers weak, and he prays to God for strength. This is an area where we fail many times in our prayers. We never pray for strength from God. We need Him to strengthen us physically, emotionally, and spiritually as we daily go through this life. The world, the flesh, and the devil continually try to make us become weak Christians in many ways, but our God will give us the strength that we need to go through this life.
One closing thought concerning Nehemiah and prayer is this. Nehemiah was a leader and a builder for God. Fortunate is that Church whose leaders are men of prayer. Happy is that congregation who are contemplating the erection of a church to have leaders who will lay its foundations in prayer, and whose walls go up side by side with prayer. Prayer helps to build churches and to erect the walls of houses of worship. Prayer defeats the opponents of those who are prosecuting God's enterprises. Prayer touches favorably the minds even of those not connected with the Church, and moves them toward Church matters. Prayer helps mightily in all matters concerning God's cause and wonderfully aids and encourages the hearts of those who have His work in hand in this world.