Harris Malcom, state missionary
Middle Georgia Region
What are those things that God has placed deeply in your heart? Those things that cause you to lie awake at night and ponder? There comes a time when you have to do something about it because it is such a strong moving thing within you.
Nehemiah is burdened. His hometown is in great need. He wants to do something. He has to do something. He could have let his emotions drive him, but instead he let the Spirit of God guide him. He chose to make prayer his first choice (verse 6).
His prayer was both public and personal: “Let your eyes be open and your ears be attentive to hear your servant’s prayer that I now pray to you day and night for your servants, the Israelites. I confess the sins we have committed against you. Both I and my father’s family have sinned” (Nehemiah 1:6)
Nehemiah is moved deeply. He didn’t care about his position anymore. He didn’t care about making the king happy as his number one priority.
“I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of the heavens. (Nehemiah 1:4)
What is amazing to me here is that he didn’t have to get involved. He could have dismissed it from his mind, but he knew that something had to be done about it.
Did there used to be a vision burning brightly in your soul that isn’t burning anymore? What happened? Did you give up on it? Did it seem too big? Did something or someone discourage you? What happened to the God inspired dream?
Some of us need a new vision from God. Others of us need that same God given vision renewed.
Whatever it is that moves you, don’t run away from it. When God puts a burden on your heart, never try to escape it. Feed it! Hang around those that share that passion.
Listen, Nehemiah has it made. He lives with the king in the palace. He doesn’t have to carry this burden if he doesn’t want to.
Listen to his prayer (read vv. 5-11). When you pray like this, one of the first things we must do is not remind God of who He is, but remind ourselves of who God is.
One thing you see in this prayer and when we pray right is that we establish the proper place of God in our circumstances.
The Lord’s Prayer – “… Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.”
Nehemiah – “… great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness…” (v. 5).
If you want something to happen in your situation, you had better invoke the power and presence of God.
Is it that your sin is keeping you from doing the thing that God has called you to do?
In his prayer he teaches us to pray God’s Word. He reminds God of Moses prayer and uses the words of Moses prayer in his prayer.
Nehemiah is taking a situation in his own life and taking God’s word and putting the two together and calling on God.
You can’t pray God’s word unless you know God’s word and you can’t know God’s word unless you memorize God’s word and you can’t memorize God’s word unless you read God’s word. If you want God’s word to come into your prayers it must first come into your heart and mind first.
Notice he is not giving God an ultimatum. He prays the prayers that God has already said.
There are times that it is okay to pray for success (v. 11), when it is God-focused and brings Him glory.
Now this is the king that had the wall building halted. Why is Nehemiah his cupbearer?
Remember, God does things that are bigger than we are, higher than we are, and more than we can ask or think. He puts us in places and circumstances and situations of His choosing. Why? Because He is always at work to bring about His purposes and will for the sake of His glory and kingdom.
What if God wants to use you? Are you OK with that? We’re all about things getting done until we have to step into it.
In Christ’s humanity He was not all that thrilled about going to the cross and suffering and having nails driven into His hands and becoming sin. But in the garden He said, if that is what you want God, “not my will, but Thy will be done.”
Is that what you want?