“The problem with the world today is...” “I can’t believe what my boss just did. If I was in charge, I would...” It is easy for us to groan, complain, and wish we could tell others what to do, but do we ever take action to help?
Nehemiah was not a prophet or a king. He was serving under the king in Persia when he learned of the problems facing his people. Nehemiah took action, leaving his comfortable position to return to his broken homeland. He was not the first to return to Jerusalem after the exile. Zerubbabel (538 B.C.) and Ezra (458 B.C.) led the first two waves of people.
Our text today sheds light on the beginning of Nehemiah’s return (445 B.C). After receiving troubling news about the state of Jerusalem, Nehemiah was struck with compassion. He fell to his knees before God and prayed on behalf of his people (vv. 3–4). God gave Nehemiah a passion to restore Jerusalem and lead people back to the Lord.
Nehemiah began his prayer by proclaiming God as transcendent, great, awesome, and covenant- keeping. He acknowledged that he and his people were disobedient sinners (vv. 5–7). Nehemiah did not just finger point but said that everyone (including himself) had sinned against the Lord.
He also recognized that if the nation was going to get a second chance, they would have to commit themselves to obey Yahweh (vv. 8–9). He finished his prayer with a specific request and asked for favor before the king. He requested a return to Jerusalem to rebuild the crumbled walls (v. 11). Nehemiah’s prayer was bold and honest because his heart was broken for his people. Instead of merely complaining, his words were prayers for change, and he was ready to act.
>> How often do you pray for the problems facing your world, your community, or your workplace? Ask the Lord to provide ways you can make a difference, so you can help restore the broken people around you.
What would You have us do to bring restoration to the needy among us? Father, give us opportunities to help others and a servant’s heart to follow through willingly. We ask and know that You hear our prayer.