Nehemiah's Prayer and Success in the Lord's Work

All growth is change. And most growth starts with the recognition of our need to improve. Every week as we remember the Lord's Supper, I am reminded of Christ's sacrifice for all of us and the subsequent failure on my part to always respond to Jesus' loving action properly.

Nehemiah, a Hebrew serving the king of Persia, heard of the state that Jerusalem had fallen to despite the recent ritual revival that had occurred there. Nehemiah responded to the sad situation with weeping, mourning, prayer and fasting. Nehemiah 1 records one of his prayers.

I have rewritten that prayer for our situation. If you want to read the original prayer, go to Nehemiah 1.
O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear this prayer for your followers, the church. I confess the sins we Christians, including myself and this local body, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you at times. We have not obeyed the command to love our neighbors as you taught.

Please remember the instruction you gave your follower Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.'

We are your followers and your people, whom you redeemed by the great sacrifice of Jesus. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to this prayer of your followers who delight in giving praise to your name. May our lives give you glory. Give us success today by granting us favor in the presence of others.
Then Nehemiah went to do the will of God, risking his life, facing scorn and danger, and leaving the comfort of the king's presence - all to bring glory to God. In the end, Nehemiah's struggle was not in vain. None of his success would have happened if Nehemiah was not able to see that the reality of the world was different than the reality God intended. So often we also realize this but justify it away. Nehemiah did not do what we have the tendency to do. He followed his realization by mourning, fasting, and praying over the Israelites' fallen state, and then he worked to bring God's reality into our reality. When we strive for that which is better and are willing to change ourselves, God can be glorified.
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God (Nehemiah 6:15-16).
Their enemies and surrounding neighbors realized that God was at work. Let us mourn, pray, and fast that the world will realize that God is at work within us and in our midst, and may we be the people willing to be used for that work. But be assured, we will have to change for that to happen. All growth is change.  Let us remember the sacrifice that has allowed us to be God's people.

Leonard Sweet wrote, "Jesus came to the world as hands and feet; Jesus comes now to us as bread and wine so that we come to others as Jesus' hands and feet."