written by- Daniel Smith
It all begins with prayer. You have heard us mention this numerous times here at Way To Serve and it is because we see it in God’s Word and believe God’s Word to be true. As we look at Nehemiah chapter one, we see that Nehemiah begins with receiving a bad report. His people are in great trouble and shame and to add to that the wall is broken down and it’s gates are destroyed (v. 3). Generally when we receive such news, we tend to jump into action and fix the problem. What did Nehemiah do? He prayed. We read of this in verse 4, “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven”. This should always be our first response. Jumping into action will generally lead to us acting in our own strength even if our intentions are good. I have found that in my life this results in wearriness and frustration. God’s word says in John 15:5, “…for apart from me you can do nothing”. So let us unite together and follow the example that God gave us in Nehemiah and start the spiritual and physical rebuilding of our community by starting in prayer.
“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…” (v.5). Nehemiah first recognized who God is. We should do the same. God is Lord. God is awesome. God is love. Set your mind on who He is. We have a wonderful, holy opportunity to be able to approach His throne through the blood of our savior Jesus Christ. We approach with this confidence only, not on our own, so let us recognize who He is.
“…let your ear be attentive and your eyes be open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night…” (v.6). What a love Nehemiah had for his people! I must confess that the prayers I tend to pray fervently over are mainly for myself. Day and night he prayed for his community. Think about that. How fervently or constantly are we praying for those in our community to know Jesus as Lord and savior? To take this a step further, when Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment of them all he said, “The most important is, “”Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”” The second is this, “”You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”” There is no other commandment greater than these.” And there it is, love your neighbor as yourself. Let us pray for our neighbor, pray for our community as Nehemiah did with his, night and day.
May we also repent. When was the last time that you prayed for the sins of others? When was the last time you prayed that God have mercy and forgive the sins of your community? We, like David, know of our own sin, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 50:3), but I believe, based upon the prayer of Nehemiah, that we must be in prayer for the sin of our community along with our own sin. Please do not just read these words shared in Nehemiah, but put them into practice. “I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses”.
So, as we prepare for our upcoming My Jerusalem, let us follow the example of Nehemiah. May we pray first before we act. May we be in constant prayer for our neighbor and community. May we repent and pray for our sin and the sin of those in our community. My prayer is that we are unified through this passage and excited to see what God will do in our community.