Nehemiah Sets an Example of Fasting and Prayer

Nehemiah 1:11 – “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy…”

As a pastor, as I travel the nation and world, I am constantly heartbroken whenever I see a once beautiful church building that has been neglected for years and no longer houses a vibrant church family. It boggles my mind that, for so long, so many of God’s people living in a community can ignore the need, or that the people who oversee the property have no vision to rebuild the property and relaunch the ministry.

We see something similar in the opening chapter of Nehemiah. Although the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed and its walls broken for 141 years, he has a sudden, deep, emotional breaking at hearing the news causing weeping, mourning, fasting, and praying for 3-4 months (2:1 is in March-April). Some have speculated that Nehemiah was responding to some new devastating news, but it’s more likely he was simply seeing and feeling old news in a new way.

Because we live in cultures no less spiritually broken than Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day, we should feel as he felt and pray as he prayed. Before devising a plan or beginning a project, Nehemiah spent months praying and fasting for God to go before him and prepare him for the task of rebuilding a home for God’s people to gather and worship freely.  Throughout Nehemiah, he prays repeatedly to get both God’s vision, and his God-given role in serving that vision (Nehemiah 1:4-11, 2:4, 4:4-5, 4:9, 5:19, 6:9, 6:14, 13:14, 13:22, 13:29-31).

Without making Nehemiah’s prayer a rigid prototype, it is helpful to learn from his example which includes:

  • P-praise God (1:5)
  • R-repent of sin (1:6-7)
  • A-agree with God’s promises (1:8-9 echoes Deuteronomy 12:5, 9:29, 28:64, and 30:1-4)
  • Y-yearn for God’s blessing (1:10-11)

What need/ministry opportunity has God burdened you for? How can a season of fasting, praying, and journaling like Nehemiah help you discern God’s will and what, if anything, you should do to meet that ministry need?

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