How Long Nehemiah Prayed

I’m listening to some sermons on Nehemiah and this fellow made a wonderful observation that I want to share with you today.

When Nehemiah, cup-bearer for the king of Persia, heard that his ancestral city of Jerusalem was lying in rubble and his fellow Jews were in distress, he prayed fervently. Between chapters 1 and 2 there is a period of 3-4 months. Nehemiah prayed for 90-120 days before God gave him the first opportunity to petition his boss, Artaxerxes the King of Persia, to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild.

When the people of Israel began to rebuild the walls under his leadership, it took the Jews 52 days to build the wall (Nehemiah 6:15).

Do the math. Nehemiah prayed about this twice as long as it took them to build the wall.

Don’t we have this reversed sometimes? We work twice as long, beating our heads against the wall, because we did not spend enough time inviting God into our lives and our planning. Not enough time was spent seeking God’s advice, God’s will, His wisdom and His plans, and as a result we make our lives and work all the more difficult.

It’s something to think about. Nehemiah prayed about this twice as long as it took him to actually do the project.

 

Plumbing Depth of God’s Love–Hold the Line

6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You, In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters, They shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. 9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:6-11 NKJV)

Today our discussion comes to a conclusion. We have covered a lot of ground and I am thankful to God that He provides us His word to study, discuss, and apply to our lives through reading it, studying it, meditating on it, discussing it and praying it. Here is a synopsis and checklist of sorts concerning the last verses of Psalm 32.

  • Pray: Seek the Lord! That means you must be talking to God at all times. Those conversations you are having in your own head…have them with God. Those conversations you wish you could have with those who mean the most to you…have them with God. Your groaning from physical, emotional, spiritual pain…give it to God. He is listening, reaching and waiting to lift off that what burdens you.
  • Now: Our days and lives are made up of individual moments. Though the moments might pile up on us and move so fast we don’t think there is time to take a pause…don’t be fooled. Now is the moment to seek out God. Have a sense of urgency in your prayer and service to God…remember He is who you need most.
  • Be secure: God will protect you. David is not saying you won’t have troubles but that God can get you through those troubles. Your pain and suffering is an ever-present reminder you need God, He will help you and you cannot hide or try to fix your sins, relationships, lives…alone.
  • God will not forsake you: We see this throughout scripture. In the verses above, God is speaking in 8-11 and He has an awesome way of encouraging us…just read, listen and hide His words in your heart.
  • God will lead you: What an awesome Shephard we have…follow Jesus and you will be able to shepherd those in your life. God promises to counsel you with His eye always on you. What a beautiful promise from the mouth of the Lord! God is watching you. He has his eye on you.
  • Trust in Him and Let Go: Don’t be stubborn like horses and mules who need to be driven in the right direction. It will not work. God does not force us to go the way we ought to go. God is a God of freedom…not limits…He doesn’t want you to be bridled and driven…but to be freed from your sins so you can be free to love others…God will point to the proper path and you must choose to follow His direction.
  • He will immerse you in His mercy!
  • You will be blessed and rejoice!
  • Be righteous!
  • Be upright!
  • Praise God!

The steadfast love of the Lord surrounds those who trust in the Him. Which would you rather have in life: the many sorrows of the wicked or the steadfast love of the Lord? The answer is obvious, but to have the steadfast love of the Lord then we must put our trust in Him. We must completely submit our lives to God. In the context of this Psalm, we must openly confess our sins to God and thank the Lord that our transgressions are forgiven, our sins are covered, and our iniquities are not counted.

Those most important to us as men are counting on that…need that. No other man can fulfill the role given to you and no other man can do for your wife, children, friends, co-workers, etc. what they most need from you. Hold the line brothers!

Asa’s Prayer

King Asa and his soldiers drew up in battle against the Ethiopian army. Although Asa’s soldiers numbered 580,000, the Ethiopian army had a million men (2 Chronicles 14:8-9). Anybody can take a brief look at this matchup and realize that Asa’s men were in trouble. They were vastly outnumbered. Look at Asa’s prayer as he assesses the situation.

Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You” (2 Chronicles 14:11).

Asa first recognized that he needed help. Secondly, he realized that there was none other than God who can help him. He called this a “battle between the powerful and those who have no strength.” Asa and the people put their trust completely in the Lord’s power. They understood this victory would be for God’s glory (“in Your name”).

The Lord answered this prayer mightily, and He routed the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah. The Ethiopians, the powerful, the million man army, fled (2 Chronicles 14:12).

Asa’s Prayer Revisted Later in Life

In time, Asa began to depart from the Lord. He began to trust in men rather than in God. The Lord sent the prophet Hanani to remind King Asa of what God did for him.

“Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His…” (2 Chronicles 16:8-9).

Yet because you relied on the Lord – What will the Lord do for His people when we rely on Him rather than on our own wisdom and strength? His eyes are moving all over the globe today, but what are God’s eyes looking for? He is looking to “strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

You may feel without strength in some way this morning. Maybe you feel outnumbered at home or at work. It might be that you look at the size of Satan’s army and you want to tuck your tail in, run and hide. Please keep these passages in mind. God’s eyes are looking to strongly support you. Give your heart completely into His care. Don’t seek the help of man first; seek the help of God first. He will deliver.

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Watch and Pray

Let us look at two passages of Scripture for today, both dealing with the command to “watch and pray.” The first is a warning Jesus makes to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. The next passage is from Peter as an older man, a mature servant of Jesus Christ. Pay attention to what Jesus told Peter in the Garden and what Peter the elder apostle is advising Christians to do decades later. It is the exact same advice!

Watch and Pray

Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
(Mark 14:37-38)

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world (1 Peter 5:6-9).

Peter was warned that his spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak. Hence the dire need to watch out for the Devil’s attack, and an even more pressing need to pray! That is precisely what Peter learned over time and he is sharing it with his brethren. Why did he fall that night of Jesus’ arrest? It is no surprise…he did not watch (he was sleeping) nor did he keep praying.

Even though the command “watch and pray” is not in the above passage from Peter, the teaching is clearly there, isn’t it?

Watch

“Be sober, be vigilant.” Keep your eyes open spiritually at all times. The Devil, the roaring lion, is always lurking. Don’t go asleep at the wheel, men. Our roads have rumble strips to warn us when we are swerving, but the Devil is not so kind to us when we doze off.

Pray

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” God cares. Jesus knew that in the Garden as He poured out His soul to the Father. Peter came to learn this beautiful truth and we will be better for it if we truly believe it. God cares for us. He wants us to pour all (not some) of our care upon Him. He has big shoulders and an even bigger heart. His ears never grow heavy and weary from listening to His children talk to Him.

Watch and pray, men.