Summary: If you cover everything you do with prayer, you will live closer to God’s purpose and God will help you succeed.
When you just want to give up
Challenge from last week
Worship like no one is watching
Give everything that doesn’t produce fruit to Jesus
That challenge was hard, I know.
That’s why it’s called a challenge!
Difficult to ignore everything the world and your friends have taught you
Difficult to make yourself vulnerable to people, to allow them to make fun of you because of your faith
Difficult to look at your own faults so you can give them up to Jesus
That's OK -- I know it's hard!
But whenever we face something difficult we have two choices
do it anyway
give up because it’s too hard, and just stop trying
I want to share a story with you of someone in the Bible who had a lot of difficult challenges, all sprung upon him at once, and what he did in response. Turn with me to Nehemiah. (it’s between Ezra and Esther)
Nehemiah is one of my favorite books in the OT. It tells the story of Nehemiah’s struggles to rebuild the ruined wall of Jerusalem.
Does this in only 52 days
the original wall was about 4.5 miles long, 8 meters tall, and about 20 feet thick. Nehemiah “rebuilt” this wall!
this was a difficult challenge! Not only did Nehemiah have to rebuild a huge wall, but he had a lot of things going against him:
his workers were just normal people, not skilled masons or stoneworkers
the Horonites, Ammonites, and Arabs were constantly mocking them, threatening them, and lying to and about them
the people were being taken advantage of by their own leadership (Nehemiah put a stop to that!)
So what did Nehemiah do? How did he get through this?
He prayed -- Every time there was an issue, Nehemiah started out with prayer.
When he heard about the state of the city wall (1:2-4), the first thing he does is mourn, fast, and pray
“2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
He was also honest with God -- he wept! He cried out to God; he wasn’t afraid to show his feelings.
When he went to the king to ask permission to rebuild the wall (2:2-5)
“2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of the heart.” I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where m fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
When he’s being taunted by his enemies (4:3-5)
“3 Tobiah, the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building -- if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” 4 Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guild or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.”
When his enemies used lies and intimidation to scare him into backing down (6:5-9, 14)
6 in which was written: “It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.” 8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” 9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”