Summary: A example of the kind of praying God uses to enable us to be used by God to accomplish what He wants done.
Nehemiah Sermon 3
A Man of Prayer
“When I heard these things I sat down and wept. For days I mourned and prayed and fasted before the God of heaven.
Then I said, ‘O Lord, God of heaven/ Look at me Lord and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night.”(1:4,5)
Give me success today before this man (The King-Ch.2) so he will have mercy on me.’” (1:11)
Four Months of Prayer
There are four months of praying between receiving the news 1:1) and talking to the King (2:1). Prayer,above all else, is the reason the Jerusalem wall was built; all opponents were defeated; and the people were revived by the preaching of Scripture.
Dr. R. G. Lee says,
If you trust in administration, you get what administration can do.
If your trust in hard work, you get what hard work can do.
If you trust in your sparkling personality, you get what your sparkling personality can do. But-
If you trust in prayer, you get what God can do.
The “Secret” Of Useable People
God uses all kinds of people in His work- mystics like Nathanael who sit under fig trees and meditate (Jn. 1); rugged farmers like Amos who leave their fig trees and put their fingers under the noses of sinners; statesmen like Isaiah; manly heroes like Nehemiah who punch backsliders (Ch. 13: and broken hearted men like Jeremiah; etc.
My Church History professor in seminary said John Calvin and Martin Luther, the two driving forces behind the birth of Protestants in the Protestant Reformation, once spent the night in the same town and they had so little in common that neither attempted to contact the other.
But Luther and Calvin and all God’s great men and women, vastly different in so many ways, had one thing in common. They would tell you that prayer was the secret to any success they had.
A. THE PRIORITY GIVEN
Nehemiah Maximizes Prayer
His book begins and ends in prayer and contains 12 prayers. Prayer is the rule of the kingdom and it is God’s rule. God will not do some things unless we work and he will not do some things unless we pray.
James says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)
Jesus said in Luke 18, “Men ought always to pray.”
Paul said, I will pray.” (1 Cor. 14)
The Apostles said,
“We will give ourselves to prayer.” (Acts 6)
We Minimize Prayer
Prayer is the hardest work God asks us to do. To modern, impatient, proud people today- that was a long waste of time. For every 100 men God can get to work for Him He can find 1 who will wait on Him and pray.
This was not a waste of time; it was four months of preparation in the mind and soul of Nehemiah. This was four months of praying, weeping, studying Scripture and conversing with God. Prayer is the anvil upon which God fashions us into the kind of people He can trust with his power and use for his purposes.
In one Peanuts cartoon Lucy sets up her psychiatrist booth with the sign “Psychiatry 5 cents”. Snoopy come up, sits on the patient’s bench for awhile, says nothing, and leaves.” Lucy comments, “You cannot do much when a patient won’t talk.”
B. THE PATIENCE PRACTICED
Four months is a long time when your heart is breaking and you are ready to do something. The most frustrating thing about God is that He never seems to get in a hurry.
Was it because Nehemiah’s turn as cupbearer took that long to come around? Was the King out of town? Was Nehemiah waiting upon God’s go-ahead? Was he discovering what God wanted from him? Was he getting up the nerve to put his head on the chopping block and approach the king about the matter?
Probably, the answer is “all of the above”. Waiting is painful work. The Bible says, “When hope is delayed, the heart is crushed.” (Prov. 13:12) In our fast paced society we want everything done yesterday. Our prayer is, “Lord, please give me patience; and give it to me today.” Our motto is “Lets’ roll!” But God’s servant must be willing to wait.
C. THE PRACTICE REVEALED
“Lord, give me success today”(1:11)
This was a short prayer hurled to God right before Nehemiah put his life on the line before the King. These are found all through this Book.
1) Nehemiah’s first response was four months of prayer (1:5f.)
2) The day he went to the King he prayed for success (1:11)
3) When the King asked him why he was sad he “prayed to the Lord of heaven” before he answered (2:4)
4) When Sanballat and Tobia laughed at his workman, Nehemiah prayed (4:4:4-5)