Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Nehemiah the Prayer Warrior & Servant Leader

Nehemiah was a creative, humble, and strong leader during the time of the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  The nation of Israel had been annihilated by it's enemies, taken to Babylon, and for years, the city lay empty.  But at least they had returned home.  And Nehemiah took on leadership to help rebuild the walls of the city. 

The process that Nehemiah undertook was quite telling. He heard about Jerusalem and how the walls and gates of Jerusalem had been burned and destroyed. Nehemiah then entered a process that must’ve been ordained and guided by God. Nehemiah wept bitterly. He cried over these facts. And he mourned. Then we see that Nehemiah fasted and prayed, and fasted and prayed for several days. Nehemiah brought this affair before the Lord through his diligence in mourning, weeping, fasting, and praying. This was a declaration from Nehemiah that he cared and wanted to converse with God on the events transpiring.

Nehemiah prayed to God saying: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.”

The heartfelt and sorrowful prayer continued, but no response is given by God that is depicted in words. Nehemiah seems to have asked God to give him favor before the king, and by this then, Nehemiah would know if God had responded favorably.

Nehemiah went to the king and the king responded favorably. Nehemiah was granted permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the gates and the walls, and the city of Jerusalem. I think Nehemiah’s prayer is telling because he openly admits the sins of the nation and his own personal sins. He gets honest with God. And in city ministry we have to be open, and we have to be real with God. We have to call the people to repentance. God grants success through leaders. So it is also wise to consider the fact that God can work through leaders in the cities. So appealing to city leaders can be useful in the process of understanding theology of the city. It’s also telling to note that Nehemiah refers to the covenant between God and man. Indeed, when we minister in the city, we ought to help people understand how God relates to humanity, which is through Jesus Christ his son. God loves the people of the city and He wants to call them home to Himself. That much is certain.

Nehemiah’s praying, fasting, weeping and repenting lasted for four months according to the calendar. This informs our understanding of the spiritual battle that takes place. When we pray, fast, and seek God on behalf of major cities, we should do so not over hours or days, but over months and years, constantly praying and fasting for the city we seek to serve. Amen.