Summary: This is part 1 of a series of sermons focusing on Nehemiah"s prayer life as he set about the great task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
Building A City On Prayer - Part 1
The book of Nehemiah is one that is filled with courage, effective leadership, faith, motivation, a great sense of adventure and a desire to honor God. Upon receiving information that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and in ruins and the gates burned with fire, Nehemiah clearly understood the dangers and disgrace involved (1:3). It meant the city was unprotected, probably a laughing stock, with its security under grave threat from enemies. He therefore resolved to do something about it. This great task that he undertook and finished efficiently was undergirded by much prayer.
This sermon will focus on some of the prayer strategies adopted by Nehemiah. I trust it will help you in your own prayer walk as you face the challenges and the many insecurities that life throws at us. Today, we will discuss 4 of those prayer pointers.
1) Nehemiah prayed fervently (Nehemiah 1:4)
The Bible says that Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted and prayed (1:4). He prayed earnestly; day and night (1:6). There is always a place for fasting and fervent prayer when we face stubborn challenges that seem to refuse to leave us and problems that seem to mock us. James says in James 5:16, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (NKJV). Satan will never give up without a fight, but we can always be overcomers through the principle of fervent prayer with fasting. Jesus Himself said so in Mark 9:29.
In response to Nehemiah’s fervent prayers, God gave him military, political, administrative and leadership strategies that any modern day leadership guru could learn from!!
A quote by Martin Luther says, ‘If I should neglect prayer for a single day, I will lose a great deal of the fire of faith’.
Illustration – I remember hearing a story about a prayerful missionary who was deeply disturbed by the enmity between two tribes in the area that he was ministering in. It is said that this man of prayer pitched his tent at the intersection where the two roads that led to the different tribes met. He then went inside the tent and began to pray fervently. Within a short time the tribes made peace with each other!
2) Nehemiah focused on the greatness of the One he was praying to (Nehemiah 1:5)
He identifies his God with the terms, ‘God of Heaven’, ‘great’ and ‘awesome’, and as the One ‘who keeps His covenant of love’. Understanding who his God was clearly moved him to immediate action. We too need to keep our eyes and faith fixed constantly on “Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith”, more than on our problems (Hebrews 12:2). The Psalmist said, “I lift up my eyes to the hills….My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).
Let’s ask God to open our eyes to His greatness so that we may ‘walk by faith and not by sight’.
It is said that the accomplished inventor George Washington Carver’s prayer every morning was ‘open my eyes that I may see’.
Illustration – In 2 Kings 6, the prophet Elisha was in Dothan when the Aramean army surrounded the city with orders to capture him. Although his servant panicked at the site of the large army, Elisha saw God’s horses and chariots of fire around him and experienced a great deliverance. (Please read the story).
3) Nehemiah prayed for favor (Nehemiah 1:11)
We should never forget that God’s favor is upon His children at all times; even in the seemingly darkest moments. The Psalmist prayed “Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame” (Psalm 86:17). How true this was when it came to the opposition that Nehemiah faced! The scriptures speak of God’s favor repeatedly and we should believe and pray accordingly!
Nehemiah prayed for favor and received amazing favor from none other than the King himself. In fact, his focus was not on getting favor for himself, but for the work of God (2:5). The King in return, was pleased to help him (2:6). As a result, Nehemiah received bodyguards, a security contingent, letters of recommendation and the required timber, not only for the repairs of the city, but also for his own future residence in Jerusalem (2:7-9)! Talk about having favor!!
4) Nehemiah prayed the promises of God (Nehemiah 1:8-9)
He remembers the promises given by God to Moses His servant and prays accordingly, so that he and the other exiled people could go back to their homeland.
Part of our prayer times should involve claiming, trusting and speaking out the promises that God has given us. And, there are plenty of them in His Word! Faith is always strengthened when we quote the promises of God in response to the attacks we face. Sadly, we tend to speak more about our problems than about God’s great promises! Satan hates the Word of God and he will surely flee when we resist him with God’s promises. Let’s speak them out boldly in prayer against all opposition.