Nehemiah’s Priority: Prayer
And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments…
— Nehemiah 1.3-5
Have you ever received a phone call and on the other end was someone giving you bad news, life-altering news? Nehemiah received catastrophic news, and what did Nehemiah do first? Did he form a committee and devise a plan to eradicate the problem? Nope. Nehemiah simply prayed. Prayer was not Nehemiah’s last resort. Prayer was his first stop. Prayer was his first action item.
Prayer was a priority for Nehemiah. Why? Because there is power in prayer. Prayer is one of the ordinary means of grace whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of our redemption.
What was Nehemiah’s posture in prayer? Nehemiah sat down. Nehemiah stopped everything he was doing, and he physically sat down to pray. Nehemiah acted out Peter’s words: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5.6-7). Nehemiah definitely had no little anxiety; but he deliberately chose to cast his anxieties on God.
Additionally, Nehemiah wept and mourned for days. In case you don’t know, the word “wept” in Hebrew is not figurative language. It does not mean he got a little misty-eyed. Wept means to wail, cry, and sob. Some men say, “Don’t cry. Crying is for girls. There is no crying in baseball.” But God used a praying man and God used a crying man to bring about real change. You know, “Jesus wept” (John 11.35). That’s one of my daughter’s favorite Bible verses. And what looks like weakness in the eyes of men is strength in the arms of God. The Psalmist said, “you have put my tears in your bottle” (Psalm 56.8). Nehemiah sat down and cried and prayed.
Have you ever received a phone call, and on the other end was someone giving you bad news, life-altering news? My wife and I have received several of those kinds of phone calls. We wished we had never answered it. Five years ago, we received one of those phone calls. Her mother had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance and then life-flighted to another hospital. Two days later she departed and now she is with Christ, and that is far better. But Christ comforted us through his means of grace known as prayer.
Will you make prayer a priority in your life right now? Let’s pray.