“In the month of Chislev, they said to me, ‘The remnant there is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.’ As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant… and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.’
“In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,.. I took up the wine and gave it to the king. And the king said to me, ‘Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.’ Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, ‘Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’ Then the king said to me, ‘What are you requesting?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven… And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.” Nehemiah 1:1,3-6,11; 2:1-4,8
Nehemiah knew the only thing to do with his broken heart over the condition of his brothers and beloved Jerusalem was to beseech his Lord, and he kept on over 4 months until he had God’s answer and direction to act. Even then, stepping out in faith to make request of the king brought fear, yet he continued boldly and in ongoing prayer.
It takes determination and consistent practice to develop an effective habit of prayer, long draughts of focused time and waiting with Jesus, and ongoing communion when up and about. Once cultivated, the friendship and fellowship is unbroken, the sweet companionship with the Divine a lifeline of peace, resolve, power, and courage.
Throughout the book of Nehemiah, we see this godly leader cry out to God confidently and specifically in times of attack, discouragement, anger, need. We can do the same. (Nehemiah 4:4,9; 5:7,19; 6:9,14; 7:5; 13:22,31)
What are my default reactions to situations that rock my world with grief or angst? When I am bewildered how to move forward in a task or with a child or against a roadblock, where do I turn? How patient am I to continue seeking until God answers, believing that the time it takes for me to hear is time He is using to ready a resolution aligned with His purposes? Could He be preparing those I will encounter for their part in His grand scheme, working in their heart or circumstances? In my waiting, what new facets of His character, and mine, am I learning? What aspects of my nature is prayer refining, what qualities is it developing, what impulses is it extricating or transforming?
Lord, in every circumstance, every grief, every need, every moment, keep me in constant prayer. Deepen my communion with You so my living is a flourishing result of Your life in me.