Armed with my highlighter and pen I started to read thorough the book of Nehemiah reflecting on how Nehemiah accomplished the huge undertaking of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Twelve times I highlighted the places where Nehemiah took the time and space to pray to God for direction as he and the people worked together. Each time Nehemiah finds himself in a place where trouble arises he takes it before God and trusts in his direction. As we follow through the book we have prayers that move from Nehemiah’s personal struggles to the struggles of the people, prayers for the poor and prayers of protection from their enemies.
Chapter 9 of Nehemiah holds the longest recorded prayer in scripture, a prayer from the people of Israel. This prayer from the Israelites in an expression of confession, a request seeking forgiveness for the sins they committed in their unfaithfulness in following God. Chapter 13 closes the book with 4 prayers all beginning with the same word, remember, three times Nehemiah asks God to remember him and once to remember the people. I don’t think God has forgotten anything of what Nehemiah has done or what the people have done; Nehemiah was putting his trust in God knowing that He will work through him according to His will.
Being willing and ready to pray in all circumstances is what I learn from Nehemiah. From the beginning of his journey Nehemiah sets for us the standard in which we can use as we work forward in ministry. Our ministry leaders need to be surrounded by and committed to prayer so we can give the glory to God for the work he is doing in our lives personally and in the life of the church.