The book of Nehemiah stands near the end of history section of the Bible.  It records one of the three major waves of Jewish exiles who returned to Israel after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. But, its main source is the life and leadership of the man who led this wave, Nehemiah. 

If you read and study the book of Nehemiah, you will find a man who consistently turned his problems into prayers.  He lived by the advice, “Pray when troubles trouble you.”  We find him turning his problems into prayers in almost every one of the twelve chapters in the book bearing his name.  So, when the need of Jerusalem was brought to his attention, Nehemiah did as he always did, He brought the matter before the Lord.

He began by addressing God with praise.  “O great and awesome God,”  he proclaimed.  You are a covenant keeper and merciful to those who are yours.  If God were not these things by nature, he would not hear and answer Nehemiah’s prayer.  But, in praising Him, Nehemiah reminded himself of why God would hear and would answer His prayers.  Why does God answer prayer?  The easy answer is He loves you and He does, but he equally loves everyone.  No, why God answers prayer is because of our expressed faith in Him and to glorify His great name.  Therefore, why we ask Him for something is just as important as what we ask Him for.

Nehemiah understood that unconfessed sin creates a barrier between us and God.  It removes His obligation to hear us and answer our prayers.  So, Nehemiah confessed his sin, but not His only, but those of his people.  Why did he do this?  Because his request would bless ALL the people.  Its one thing to sing “God Bless America” and another thing to sing it with a recognition of sin and a prayer of repentance.  In other words, God is not obligated to bless any person, organization, or nation that doesn’t bless Him.

After this, Nehemiah reminds God of the promises He had made through Moses.  God had promised that the people would be scattered through disobedience, but that they would return though obedience.  Now, does God forget His promises?  Does he need a reminder? No, there are hundreds of promises in the Bible and God forgets none of them.  But, by claiming them in prayer, we gain boldness to act in faith and obedience because of His promises.  Reminders of God’s promises are more for us than they are for God.

Lastly, he petitioned God for favor and acted in faith on his request.  Was Nehemiah afraid?  Certainly, it was a capital offense to appear in the king’s presence with an unhappy face.  But, by faith Nehemiah acted, believing that God would answer.  There is a time for prayer and there is a time for action.  Nehemiah acted and God answered.  Listen, here is the principal, if we have no desire to act, do not expect God to answer.  The action many times comes before the answer.  

So, what about us?  Will we learn the need for prayer?  Will we pray in a way that encourages a response from God?  Will we act in faith on what we are believing God for?  To reach our world is a God sized task.  Let us pray!

Daily Bible Verse

Colossians 1:7 - "As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;"

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