What Nehemiah Prayed For – Again


In What Nehemiah Prayed For – Favor, Nehemiah prayed for favor. As cupbearer, he wanted an opportunity to speak to the king as well as for the king to give him what he needed to accomplish the task God had charged him with. In Nehemiah 2, we see God answer Nehemiah’s prayer from chapter 1 where he prayed “Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

 While the text is separated into chapters, we see that Nehemiah met with God earlier in the day where his initial prayer was conveyed. Nehemiah knew that he would see the king later in the day. He wanted God to have the king recognize him and his cause. Here is an excerpt from Nehemiah 2.

 1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before; 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

   I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

 4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

   Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

 6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

 7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.

 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

We should be aware that pursuing the purposes of God may be dangerous. In verse 2, Nehemiah stated “I was very much afraid.” Why was he afraid of being in the king’s presence which is what he had done many times before? Because king’s will was the law in that time, Nehemiah feared the king’s wrath. It was not prudent or practiced to appear downcast or sad especially on what many believe was on a festive occasion. It is possible that he was afraid because Nehemiah was fully aware that he was going to ask the king to reverse a previous decision (Ezra). Like many of us, we don’t like to be told no. The fear of his mission being rejected by the king may have also contributed to his fear.

To combat his fear, notice that Nehemiah continued to commune with God when God answered his prayer to speak with the king. In his discussion with king, Nehemiah prayed again when the king asked him what he wanted. This shows how committed Nehemiah was to accomplishing what God wanted to achieve. He remained surrendered to the will of God by continually asking for God’s intervention, guidance and favor. See verse 4 and verse 7

Just as we are beginning to feel really good about God answering prayer and giving us success, the God of all wisdom includes verse 10. It reveals that we will have forces working against us in accomplishing the will of God; however, if we, like Nehemiah, continually submit ourselves to God, we will accomplish the task that God intends for us to achieve. The brilliance and beauty are in the Word of God. Please read Nehemiah to get the fullness of the Word of God.

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