Written by Fiona Monaghan
One of the things that we are encouraged to do when there seems to be nothing else to do is pray. It sounds like a less than auspicious thing to do. We say, so glibly, “I will pray for you.” However, if we could catch the power and authority behind it; if we could really see what happens in the heavens when we pray I think we would be amazed the power it holds.
We find Nehemiah in exile from his homeland, Judah (possibly being of the tribe of Judah,) and working for the Persian king, Artaxerxes. His served the king as a cupbearer which would have been quite a high position allowing him access to communicate directly with the king.
Nehemiah’s brother comes to him and tells him of the suffering of those living in Jerusalem under foreign rule. The city itself is in ruins and provides no protection for the people. Nehemiah decides it’s time to re-establish Jerusalem back to the great city it had been. Rebuild the walls that had been brought down. Re-construct the gates had been burned. Return the people back to worshipping their One True God-Jehovah. No small task.
He must have made a good impression on King Artaxerxes because when he asked the king if he could be allowed to return and rebuild the walls he was given permission. Not only that, he made Nehemiah provincial governor and gave him letters for safe passage. He even provided the means to procure timber for the rebuilding.
However, before he was given all these amazing provisions, Nehemiah did one thing. He prayed. He wept, mourned and fasted before God. In his prayer he brought up all the things he and the people had done wrong before God. He accounted the many times God had intervened on their behalf and then how the people would return to their old ways. He held nothing back.
5I 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; 6let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned. 7We have offended you deeply, failing to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses. 8Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; 9but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.” 10They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. 11O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man!’
God is all powerful, He can do anything he wants. He is the Supreme Ruler and Creator. This world does not exist without his permission. So I think what happens when we pray is that we get aligned with God’s purpose and plan. We are willing to lay everything out before him, we hold nothing back. We recognize He is Number One. We confess anything that gets between us and His plan for us. Clear the decks. For His part, He is able to move and shift circumstances when we are willing to be part of his plan.
Nehemiah had a heart for Jerusalem and really, really, really, wanted to rebuild it and restore the Israelites. I think he had connected to God’s heart in this too. He had time and time again rescued the Israelites from their oppressors and hardships. Despite their wandering attention and seemingly fickle love, He loved them and did not want them to suffer.
So prayer is seeking God’s heart and perspective in the situation we are praying about and then coming alongside Him to make it happen. Sometimes it will be in physical work like rebuilding walls, sometimes it will be emotional work like rebuilding trust and relationships. Remember, God is all about rebuilding. It is on every page of the Bible – Reconciliation and Rebuilding. Clear out all the old stuff, confess any sin and shortcoming. Make a fresh start in your heart and mind and move on from there.
Are there areas in your life that need rebuilding: a relationship that is in need of attention? Finances needed to pay off debt, healing for a sick body? Align your desires with God’s will so that you are in agreement. Ask for clarity of mind to see what needs to be done. Like Nehemiah, the way will open up and the means will be provided.