Nehemiah didn't ignore the news, he didn't share it on Facebook or create a cool picture to post on Instagram and then move on with his life.
A commitment to prayer
When Nehemiah learned about the condition of Jerusalem, it broke his heart. Nehemiah wept, fasted and prayed for the city of God (Nehemiah 1:4). From reading the Bible it doesn't appear that Nehemiah prayed for Jerusalem only once. It doesn't seem like he stopped praying after a week or a month either. Nehemiah had this intense commitment to prayer:
"Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” Nehemiah 1:11Reading the first chapter of Nehemiah you get this sense of a deep commitment Nehemiah had to prayer.
Nehemiah doesn't complain to his friends.
Nehemiah doesn't turn to a bowl of ice cream to console him.
Nehemiah doesn't become apathetic and simply watch TV.
Nehemiah makes this huge commitment to prayer. But it doesn't stop there.
A commitment to hard work
After months of praying (about 4 months). Nehemiah takes a step of faith and asks the king for permission to return to Jerusalem and help rebuild the city. Take note, this is the same king who shut the project down years earlier and Persian kings weren't known for changing their mind. But because of his commitment to prayer, God moves in a huge way!
Nehemiah receives permission to return to Jerusalem. In ancient terms, we’re talking about a four month journey full of danger and potential for disaster. So this is no small deal to travel for four months on horseback. Nehemiah didn’t fly first-class because he worked for the king. After arriving in the city he inspects the wall (by night) to come up with a plan of how to rebuild the city.
Now comes the hard work. Nehemiah must inspire a group of un-inspired people to take part of a massive rebuilding project. After facing relentless opposition Nehemiah pressed on to rebuild the wall. Finally, with calloused hands and their faces covered in sweat the wall was completed!
The book doesn't end there though. There is a huge revival. The city is repopulated the God's people worship in an awesome way. If you've never studied the life of Nehemiah I highly recommend it.
Studying the life of Nehemiah has been impacting to me. I've been trying to figure this balance of hard work and prayer. In the last couple years I have had a sense that as I work harder I want to pray more. To be honest, I see myself working harder. I am more familiar with pastoral ministry but by no means am perfect.
What happens when you work more though is you can begin to think it all depends on you. This is the opposite of what I'm aiming for. My hope is the outcome of my efforts is a reflection of my prayer life. The question the life of Nehemiah has left in my mind is, "How can I have a strong commitment to hard work and prayer?"