Encouragement for your daily walk with God
While reading the book of Nehemiah yesterday, I was arrested by the last phrase in 2.4 - So I prayed to the God of heaven. Now, before you ask “What’s the big deal,” let me set the context for you.
Nehemiah was in a state of mourning, grieved that the city and walls of Jerusalem lay in ruins. As King Artaxerxes’ wine bearer, Nehemiah was often in the presence of the King. At some point, the King saw that his countenance was sad. So, the King spoke to him about it. Nehemiah had already been fasting and praying prior to the King’s question, so when the King asked him about it, he told the king about the deplorable conditions in Jerusalem.
The conversation could have ended there, but the King went on to ask, “What do you request?” And, here is what caught my attention. Nehemiah said, “So I prayed to the God of heaven,” then made his request.
This doesn’t appear to be a passionate, fervent, righteous prayer. He didn’t lock himself away to travail before the Lord. To me, it sounds like he shot up an “in the moment” prayer — a brief, but important talk with God. We don’t know the content of that prayer. Perhaps it was for direction and guidance. Maybe he asked for protection as he spoke to the King. Who knows? But in Nehemiah’s mind, he didn’t want to move forward until He talked with God about it.
I’ve prayed that way many times. I’ve sat with unhappy couples as they tell me their woes and desire for divorce. While they were talking, I shot up an in the moment prayer, “Lord give me wisdom. Help me say the right thing.” When speaking to a businessman about helping with some humanitarian projects in Africa, I shot up that in the moment prayer, “Lord, give me favor in his sight.”
God responded to Nehemiah’s prayer. Artaxerxes allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem with safe passage and materials to rebuild the walls of the city. Every request from Nehemiah was answered.
In the moment prayers may be small, but they are mighty.
Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Nehemiah 2.4-5