Nehemiah was a leader of the Jews who rebuilt the city walls of Jerusalem after its destruction by Babylon. He was appointed cupbearer to the Persian king, but he gave up this comfortable position. He had heard about the terrible state of affairs in Jerusalem and he went back home to build it up. Nehemiah is a great example of prayer and action working hand in hand to achieve great things for God’s glory. Here are some lessons we can learn from his example:
Nehemiah knew God and His power
Nehemia had insight into who God is and came to him in prayer with reverence. He praises God for his greatness. He realized that God has unlimited power and is steadfast.
Nehemiah’s prayer life is not broken down into steps or stages. His prayers flowed out of a heart full of gratitude and praise for God’s grace and mercy. Nehemiah did not have to work hard or try hard to get his prayers answered. He simply trusted God’s word and believed that God would do what he said he would do in his word. Nehemiah was confident that if he went before the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, then he would be heard by God (1 Chron 28:9).
Nehemiah’s relationship with God was not based on performance but on faithfulness and obedience. When we read about Nehemiah’s life, we see a man who had an intimate knowledge of his creator and his creator’s power. One thing that we can learn here is, that if you want to have an intimate knowledge of God, then you need to spend time with God. In His word, and thought daily asking for wisdom, and as Nehemiah, serve others through your gifts.
Nehemiah prayed in various ways
The prayer life of Nehemiah is rich in examples of how he prayed, and with whom. He prayed out loud and sometimes in quiet. It is also interesting to note that Nehemiah also prayed in a variety of places:
- In group. Nehemiah gathered the leaders of the people, and they stood to pray (Neh. 9:5).
- Privately. Nehemiah went into his own room and prayed (Neh. 1:4). This was an important moment for him; he had just learned about what was happening to Jerusalem. It led him to ask God for forgiveness and guidance on how to lead Israel forward through these difficult times. He didn’t wait until morning or evening; he just went straight into his private space and asked God for help!
- At work. When asked a difficult question the first thing Nehemiah did was reach out to God: “Then I prayed to the God of heaven” (Neh 2:4). He automatically reached out to God in all situations independent of where he was.
We can pray wherever we are at present—whether it’s outdoors under clear blue skies or indoors snuggled under cozy blankets. God hears us and wants us to come to him with all the small and big things in our lives.
He was praying together with taking action
Nehemiah was no stranger to prayer as we have seen. He prayed when he was in trouble, he prayed before his enemies came, and he prayed after the walls were finished. Prayer was not a separate part of Nehemiah’s life; it was an integrated part of everything that he did.
Nehemiah’s prayer life was practical. He prayed for specific things and he expected God to answer his prayers. Nehemiah knew that if he was going to be successful in rebuilding the city walls, he needed help from above. We find a great example of how action and prayer go together in Neh 4:9; “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.“. He trusted God to protect their work (prayer) and at the same time, he did what he could do to secure that the work would go on (the guards).
If we think about it, Nehemiah’s goal in life is not much different than ours today—we are all called to be people who pray and take action together. We may not need to rebuild our city walls or protect ourselves from enemy armies as Nehemiah did, but God has called us all to accomplish His will on earth!
Praying against his enemies
The prayer life of Nehemiah is a perfect example of how to pray for our enemies. He prayed that they would not succeed in their plans against his people! We see him praying over Israel’s leaders like Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem (Neh 4:4-5), and many others who opposed him as they tried to rebuild the city of Jerusalem.
For example, Nehemiah had just rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem and was rebuilding the faith of the people in Jerusalem. The enemies of Israel were angry at what he had done and determined to stop him. They conspired together and set up an ambush in the mountains to kill him when he passed by. But Nehemiah heard about this plot and moved quickly to find out where it was planned to take place. He then prayed for God’s help against these enemies who wanted to destroy him. As we can read in the following chapters, God answered his prayer.
This is an incredible example of prayer. The Bible says that “prayer changes things.” But we don’t always see it happen right away. Sometimes it takes time for God to answer our prayers. But there are many examples from the Bible where God answered people who prayed for their enemies. As it says in Matthew “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). If we pray for our enemies, then we will see changes in them as well as ourselves!
He prayed about everything small and big
Nehemiah was really a man of prayer, and he prayed about everything. He started every day by praying to God, thanking Him for what he had done in his life, and asking forgiveness for anything that needed to be addressed. Nehemiah also asked God always give him strength and wisdom coming before the king (Neh 1:11). He knew that prayer was about more than just his own needs, so he also spent time praying for others. Even when things got tough or seemed hopeless at times, Nehemiah never stopped believing in God’s ability to work through all circumstances; neither did he stop believing in His promises.
Nehemiah was ready to be the answer to his own prayer
At the beginning of chapter 2, we see Nehemiah coming before the King. The night before he had asked God to do something. Perhaps without knowing it he is now making himself ready to be the answer to his own prayer. He was ready to do what God asks him to do, he trusted God with all his heart. In fact, he believed that God would do great things! God has a million ways when we see none, so perhaps should we ask ourselves: are we the answer to someone’s prayer or to even our own? Are we ready to do what God has called us to do?
We believe that your prayer life is important and that you should be intentional about it. We also believe it’s important for you to know what God wants from you as a prayer warrior. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the faith or have been praying for years; each person has their own journey with Christ. You will discover different things along the way. We hope these lessons from Nehemiah can help you grow in your relationship with God by praying more.
Comment below! Let us know below what action you will take this week to make your prayer life more intentional.