(from JemaSmith on Flikr
When Nehemiah heard from his brother and the others with him of the condition of the exiles and the city of Jerusalem, it greatly affected him. He wept. He mourned. He fasted and prayed. It would have been easy for Nehemiah to just brush off the news. He had a good job in Susa and was doing well. Why should he be concerned about something that was happening miles and miles away? God had given Nehemiah a heart for his city and people. Nehemiah being a man of prayer showed God his heart and asked for God's help. Here are some things that I am learning from Nehemiah on prayer.
1. A great work starts with confession. Nehemiah's prayer is similar to Ezra and Daniel's prayer which I wrote about here. He includes himself as he confess the sins of his people. He takes ownership of the wrong and knows that a work can't begin unless God's people are right with God.
2. Always remember who God is and that He keeps His promises. I love how Nehemiah has such a high view of God and puts the focus on God and not on himself. This is something I need to learn. He also reminds God of his promises and asks him to make them come to pass. In the same way, I need to be praying God's word knowing that God will do what He says He will do.
3. Wait on God's timing. For the first time, I noticed that Nehemiah heard the bad news in the Autumn but did not have the conversation with the king where he asks to go to Jerusalem until Spring. Prayer is work and I need to remember that my prayer might not be answered overnight. I may need to keep persisting in prayer until the time is right.
4. Prayer comes in many different forms. Nehemiah fasted and prayed but he also had short quick prayers. For example, when the king asked Nehemiah what was wrong, Nehemiah prayed a quick prayer for help in answering the king. Most of all, he spent time praying. Donna Young in the Nehemiah study from WOTH says, "Prayerfulness was the predominate attitude of his heart. Nehemiah's habit of prayer drew him near to God, overwhelmed him with God's greatness, and clarified his vision of what needed to be done."
Right now I am praying for the school where I work for funding, staffing and many other things. At times, I find myself detaching myself from the needs since I am just part time. I just want to ignore the whole thing. Besides, what good can I do? Nehemiah was concerned and mourned for a situation many miles away. At the time, he had no idea how God could use him and his prayer. How can I not be concerned and pray for a situation that affects my family and is within a mile of my house? May I start with confession and how we have not trusted in God but in funding from government sources. May I find scripture to pray not forgetting that I am praying to the God of Heaven who is in control of all things. May I make a habit of praying for this need remembering that God will answer in his timing. I just need to pray and wait.
Thank you that you are God in heaven who sees and knows all. I ask forgiveness for the times I have trusted in the provision of government grants instead of remembering that really all things come from you. Forgive me for not being more diligent in prayer for the needs of my school. Be with the administration that you will give them grace in fundraising and hiring staff. I pray that you will give them wisdom in the decision that need to be made. Be with the staff including me that we will do what we can to help not hinder. In your name, Amen