Praying More Effectively, I did a
small study on how we can pray based on the prayer style of Nehemiah. As I
recently re-read the book of Nehemiah the Lord showed me more things about
Nehemiah. This will be a more in-depth study on Nehemiah, Man of God. We can
learn a lot from his relationship with God.
The book of Nehemiah begins
with Nehemiah asking about the state of affairs in Jerusalem. He was told
that the walls around the city were still broken down and many of the
people, who had been taken into captivity by the nation's enemies many
years prior, were in affliction. From his reaction and from further
happenings in the book of Nehemiah I believe that the Lord had placed a
burden for the people and for the city of Jerusalem on Nehemiah's heart.
Nehemiah was greatly upset when he heard the news. He sat down and wept,
and mourned certain days, and fasted before he began to pray.
are given a burden by the Lord for someone or something then become
responsible for finding out what God wants them to do about it. He may want
us only to pray about the situation or He may want us to take action. We,
as people, often have a tendency to want to jump in and fix things using
our own understanding of the situation. For example, Nehemiah's first
thought may have been, "I'm just one person. I can't rebuild the walls
around the entire city of Jerusalem AS WELL AS restore the laws of God back
to the people all by myself!"
When we are given a burden by the Lord it
is very important that we seek His will as to what our portion is. Since we
can't see the big picture like He can, it is imperative that we not jump in
and start doing something until we know how to proceed. We could mess
things up if we just do what seems to be the
Nehemiah's way of praying deserves notice. In verses 5-7 of
chapter 1 he praised God, confessed sins, and asked forgiveness for his
sins and for the sins of all of the people of Israel. Forgiveness of sins
is extremely important if we are to be used of God.
significant to note that he asked forgiveness on the behalf of the people.
He knew that the things that were wrong were a result of the people's
turning away from God and disobeying Him. This tells me that God will listen
to our pleas for forgiving people other than ourselves. It seems to me that
when we ask that forgiveness for others that it softens God's heart and
causes Him to move on their behalf.
It seems that Nehemiah had found out
from God exactly what God wanted him to be doing. Nehemiah went to the king
that held the Jews in captivity and didn't even have to ask for help. In
chapter 2, verse 2, the king asked him what was troubling him. The king
then asked what he could do for Nehemiah. Nehemiah prayed first (vs 4) and
then told the king what he needed. The king gave Nehemiah permission to go
rebuild the walls in Jerusalem. Not only did he give him permission, he
gave him all the wood he needed from the king's forest! Nehemiah got what
he asked and, in verse 8, commented that the king granted him, "according
to the good hand of my God upon me." He knew that God was opening the doors
and paving the way. When he told the Jewish leaders that God was helping
him they jumped in to help (verse 18).
Nehemiah proceeded with confidence
that the work would get done. He faced his opposition with confidence,
knowing God would cause them to prevail.
In chapter 4 the Jews working on
the walls began to get a little nervous about the enemy's threats to stop
them. In verse 14 Nehemiah reminded the people that God was on their side.
In verse 15 we see that the enemy realized that God was foiling their plans
and they backed off.
Nehemiah was the one who encouraged the people and
kept them organized in doing God's work. In verse 20 he told the people
that, should they hear the trumpet signaling that the enemy was attacking,
they should remember that God would fight for them. He strengthened and
edified the people by speaking to them about the things of God. He kept
reminding them that God was perfectly capable of protecting and helping
though God was with them and helping them, half the people ended up holding
weapons and watching out for the enemy. This is an encouragement to us when
we feel like we are not in God's will because we are being attacked on all
sides. God doesn't necessarily cover the path with rose petals. He will see
that the portion he gives us will get done if we continue to make sure we
are in His will, but the enemy will probably still try to distract us and
prevent us from continuing God's work. It is important that we use the
weapons that God has given us.
"Stand therefore, having your loins girt
about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your
feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking
the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery
darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the
Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:14-17
must have stayed in constant communion with God because he had knowledge of
things that were intended to stop the work. In Chapter 6, verse 2, Nehemiah
knew that the enemy was going to hurt him or kill him when they asked to
talk. Therefore, he declined. The reason he knew was that God had given him
insight into the matter.
Nehemiah had a great deal of faith in God and had
the utmost respect for the things of God. In chapter 6, verse 11 he
responded negatively to someone who wanted to meet with him in the temple.
The person had indicated that the temple of God would be a safe place for
them to meet. Nehemiah refused because the temple was a holy place and he
would not desecrate it. He KNEW that God would not want him going into the
temple. Then, verse 12 tells us that he perceived that God had not
sent the person asking for a meeting. In other words, his perception was
actually God showed him the truth about the matter.
When the wall was
finished the enemies knew that the work had been done under the power of
God (verse 16). When we focus on God and walk in His will then other people
will see Him in our lives.
Nehemiah continued on with the work of God
after the walls were built. He appointed people to serve God. About 10-11
years prior the temple within those walls had been rebuilt and Levites had
been brought in to serve God. In that span of time they had discontinued
following the laws regarding sacrifices and holy days and such. In chapter
7, verse 5, it shows where Nehemiah was listening for God to tell him what
else to do.
Nehemiah's attitude rubbed off on all the other people. His
respect for God and the things of God spread to the other people. In
chapter 8, verse 5, all the people showed their respect for the Word of God
by standing up when the book of the law of God was opened. They then lifted
their hands, bowed their heads, and worshipped God. They heard things in
the Word that they needed to be doing, things that they hadn't been doing.
They fasted, they worshipped, and they confessed sins. The people were very
eager to make things right with God and to get things back into God's will.
This excites me to see what the obedience and passion of one person can do.
Nehemiah's passion to follow God rubbed off on all the people! I find two
things significant. He asked forgiveness for the sins of all (including
their ancestors!) Then, he sought God's will and shared those things God
was showing him with the other people. This led to repentance (9:2) on the
part of all. They also experienced great joy and happiness because of their
renewed relationship with God. This is an example of how repentance and
seeking God's face bring a revival. It is possible for one person to light
the flames of revival!!! This means that person could be you or me or
throughout the book of Nehemiah we see that Nehemiah took the job that God
gave him very seriously. He paid close attention to details. He did not
hesitate to rebuke those that defied God's laws. He was confident that he
was doing what God wanted and proceeded boldly.
Sometimes Nehemiah was
VERY bold. In chapter 13, verse 25, Nehemiah was confronting people who
had intermarried with other nationalities, which was against God's laws.
(Note: they people had made a vow to remove the non-Jews from them 10-11
years prior and apparently hadn't.) Nehemiah, "contended with them, and
cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and
made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their
sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves." Wow!
Nehemiah must have been directed by God to do that. The people felt the
anger and rebuke of God through Nehemiah or they probably wouldn't have put
up with the punishment and wouldn't have agreed to stop doing it! God does
rebuke us through other people sometimes. We need to be able to set our
pride aside and allow ourselves to be corrected once we determine that the
correction comes from God.
It is important that we find out what is
important to God. We need to find out what He wants us to be doing. We can
make a difference! One person makes an impact in the Kingdom of God!