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Living On A Prayer

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At some point in our lives, we have all faced a seemingly impossible situation we feel severely unqualified for. That ‘in over your head’ feeling that causes one to feel an ache in the pit of your stomach that only seems to get worse. Do not fret whatsoever, for if you feel or have felt this way, the story of Nehemiah, the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, and his endeavour to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (Goldberg 1996:260-261) will provide you with some light at the end of that dark tunnel.


Nehemiah 6:15-16 ESV So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.


As one proceeds through the book of Nehemiah, there are several things to be learned from the contents thereof, our primary focus in this discourse will be to understand how Nehemiah went from receiving this seemingly impossible task, to where chapter 6v15-16 are conveyed.


We consider three lessons to be learned from the life and narrative of Nehemiah:

Lesson 1: Praying is always the first step

After hearing the bad news concerning Jerusalem and the condition of its walls, Nehemiah did not decide to wallow in self-pity, or run to a friend and make it a subject of discussion. Rather he took it to the only place we find real answers, real solutions in our time of need; Nehemiah went before the Lord in prayer (Neh. 1:4-11). The power of prayer is undoubtedly a central theme within this narrative (Goldberg 1996:263).

Lesson 2: The impossible is always possible when God is at the helm

Nehemiah did not ignore the immensity of the task at hand. At no point did his actions and reactions reflect an attitude of a type of non-admittance that the task at hand was a mountain that needed overcoming. In fact, between chapters one and two, Nehemiah spends a substantial amount of time carefully considering the task at hand (Goldberg 1996:268).

Not only was he confronted with the reality that rebuilding the walls would be no small feat, but he was also ridiculed, taunted, and threatened in the process (Neh. 4:4, 5, 9). How would he not only overcome the mountain but also all these various giants along the way? The answer is quite simply, Nehemiah could and would not, or rather not alone, it would be in God’s hands and at His guidance and protection that the mountain, along with all its giants would be conquered.

Lesson 3: Actions speak in conjunction with words

Nehemiah demonstrates a very significant truth concerning prayer, his actions in conjunction with God’s leading, and the faith he exhibits by responding to the leading of the Lord shows us that true prayer will always be accompanied by actions. Prayer is not talking at God, but rather conversing with Him. Our questions, thanks and petitions may receive a response. What we do with this response is the two-part composition of true prayer. Nehemiah did not merely pray, he proceeded with action.


We need never feel hopeless in any given situation, we have a Comforter, a Listener, a Leader, a Guider, a Friend. May we always seek to bring all our concerns, our hurts, our burdens before the Lord in prayer, first, then may we be always listening, always hearing for a response, a response that prompts us, to action.


Works Cited


Goldberg L 1996. WA Elwell (ed.), Evangelical Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.


Written by Dwain Donovan Stewart