Day 3 - Nehemiah 4:1-9
Prayer with Practical Action
Prayer is a magnificent gift. In any moment we are in we can commune with God. But sometimes we don’t know what to do next. I prayed, now what? God loves the faith shown when we pray, and he often reveals his wisdom of the next right thing to do. Let’s observe how Nehemiah demonstrated this with his life.
1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” 4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
Nehemiah was working against a deadline without the resources he needed and a group he needed to trust him. And to this Sanballat and his crew add doubt and insult. They mock the men, their mission and their very faith. Nehemiah and his wall were a hated rival -the broken wall was a living symbol that God’s people were weak while their enemies were strong. And as Nehemiah built the wall it was a symbol that the Jews, with their countercultural religion, their one God, and their promised hope were coming back. The enemy was nervous and jealous, and like most nervous and jealous people they attacked.
But Nehemiah didn’t have time for silly name calling. He had to lead. He moved immediately to prayer. Re-read the verses; there isn’t a beat missed as verse 3 ends and cuts directly to verse 4. Nehemiah’s immediate response to insult is to bring the problem to God.
Is your first response prayer? If not, why?
6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. 7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
“We prayed and we built; we prayed and we posted a guard.” Prayer and action. Whenever Nehemiah faced choices, challenges, or persecution, he always prayed first. But he didn’t just pray and wait for something to happen. We see in verse 9 that Nehemiah prayed and then placed a guard day and night to address his issue. After he prayed, he took the next logical step of obedience. He took action. Nehemiah shows us that we are to spiritually trust God and then follow it with practical action.
Maybe you relate to Nehemiah and you find yourself quick to pray and also wise in action. You might also need to admit that your prayer life is weak and it needs growth. Maybe, for you, your prayer life is strong but you don’t follow that with obedience to God. Nehemiah’s example is clear in that we should have huge faith and when it comes to loving God and hard work when it comes to loving people.
What steps can you take to grow your prayer life this week?
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