Nehemiah’s consistent pattern of prayer serves as a great reminder to us in church ministry. When he gets the news of Jerusalem’s destruction, he prays. Not only does he pray, but the Bible says that he continued in prayer for many days. In fact, more than one half of the book of Nehemiah is personal record, and no fewer than nine prayers are recorded here. These prayers are usually short, but serve as an incredible reminder of its importance of prayer within the context of pastoral ministry and replanting.
Nehemiah spends around 3-4 months praying and fasting about the situation in Israel. This is an amazing feat of not only his spiritual commitment but also of his determination. While we can speculate what exactly he is praying about, it undoubtedly revolved around his desire to change the culture in Jerusalem. He must have prayed for the right opportunity to present itself so that he would be able to go back to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the city.
Nehemiah offers us a glimpse of a biblical pattern of prayer. He grounds himself in prayer. He grounds himself in humility as well because he is admitting his utter dependence upon the Lord to bless the work that he feels called to do. As a replanter, or pastor, it is far too easy to think that we can be faithful in our ministry context based upon our own strengths and gifts. This is unwise and counterproductive because it puts us at the center of our ministry instead of Christ. When we do this, it is no wonder why we fail. Nehemiah is successful in rebuilding the walls not because he is good leader but because he is man dependent upon the Lord. He is successful because he prayerfully asks a great God to do to great things.
Pastors, we must never neglect the importance of prayer. I struggle with issue daily, and if I am honest, my ministry struggles because of it. This is a needless struggle.
The great Reformer, John Knox, was a man of prayer. In response to this man, Mary I (Bloody Mary) said that she feared his prayers more than anything on earth. Knox was once quoted as saying, “Give me Scotland, or I die.” May we all be willing to lay our lives down for the sake of the Gospel and for the sakes of our churches.
Published June 28, 2016