Nehemiah was a Jew who served as butler to the king of Artaxerxes of Persia. Hanani visited him from Jerusalem and told him that the Babylonians had destroyed the walls of Jerusalem, and the city with it. When Nehemiah heard this, Nehemiah wept and prayed for God to rebuild the walls.
Why was he so concerned with the wall? A wall is more than a pile of stones. It represents the ideas and vision that surrounds people, nations, and individual. A wall defends us against our enemies and makes us different from our neighbors. It gives us the freedom to be ourselves and the strength to stand in opposition.
When our spiritual walls are gone, we lose all sense of personal boundaries. Other people can push us around, so can temptations and lusts. Without spiritual walls, we don’t know where we stand. We become fearful and afraid.Jerusalem needed a new wall, but Nehemiah was in no position to rebuild it. First he had no right. Israel already had legitimate leaders. They had priests and prophets operating among the exiles. Nehemiah was cut off from any position of leadership within Israel. Second, he had probably never even seen Jerusalem. He was either very young when taken or he was born in captivity. Third, he was a butler, not a builder. Fourth, he was too busy. Artaxerxes would never allow his butler to leave and rebuild a wall. The idea that Nehemiah could rebuild it was absurd.
Have you ever wanted to see something happen that seemed impossible? You say “someone needs to do something,” but you can think of a thousand reasons why that “someone” isn’t you.
Doubt and fear are our jailors--they lock us up and they shut us up, so that we cannot say or do what we want. We are afraid to speak up for fear that other people will be angry. But if our faith is strong , we don’t have to fear. God is our protector.Nehemiah knew the walls in Jerusalem had to be rebuilt, yet for a long time he did nothing but pray about it. He never even let his feelings about the wall show. He concealed his concern even from those closest to him. But Nehemiah did keep praying. He said nothing to the king, he did speak to the King of Kings.
Rebuilding our spiritual walls must start on our knees. God honors those who talk to Him first.
Many Christians do not really seem to believe that. When we talk about praying for something, these Christians will complain “No, we need to act”--as if praying and acting were mutually exclusive. Then they usually recite some version of the old saw that says “we don’t to be heavenly minded that we are no earthly good!”
Rarely have I encountered a group of Christians who were too heavenly minded. Our default inclination is not to talk to God, but to take every responsibility on ourselves. It is far more common to encounter Christians who act first and pray later than those who are the other way around. That is why we fail so much. When we act without praying we may do what is possible. But when God gets involved we often do the impossible. God opens doors and makes things happen that otherwise would never be.Nehemiah took prayer seriously because he needed to. He had good reasons to doubt himself. He really was not in a position to help. It was only because Nehemiah stayed and prayed for the wall to be rebuilt that it happened. That’s he problem with the earthly minded--they are no good at storming the gates of heaven and receiving the blessings of God
Still there was something Nehemiah had to do besides pray. For a long time, he missed something. Here's what happened that was the answers to Nehemiah's prayer.
Nehemiah knew a butler’s job was to fade into the background and not be noticed. But one day his burden for Israel was so great that it showed on his face.
The king noticed Nehemiah’s anguish. To Nehemiah, this was a bad thing. Butler's weren't supposed to show their feelings. But it wasn't until what was in his heart showed on his face that Nehemiah's prayers were answered.
If we want God to work in our church, we have to get real.
Christians wear so many masks at church that it resembles a masquerade ball. We pretend to have it all together, but we are weak and hurting and helpless inside. I admire people who, when I asked them how they are willing to be honest and say “terrible.” Those are the people receive comfort and encouragement. Those people who will not let their pain show receive no help from it.
My father’s generation grew up with the false idea that men don’t cry. They were ridiculed if they did. This did not make them strong, however. It just made them dishonest. We must honestly learn to share what it on our hearts.
A person who wants the blessings of God must first show their real face. They cannot pretend that they have it all together when they do not. They must be willing to cry before the Lord and before others.
When the king saw Nehemiah in distress, the king asked him what was wrong. Nehemiah replied.
"Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"
The king really wanted to know. He actually liked Nehemiah and wanted him to be happy. So he said. What would you request?
"If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it."
Nehemiah had been laboring under a false assumption that king Artaxerxes was a cruel tyrant who only cared about himself. Actually he was happy to help his favorite butler. He wanted to see Nehemiah happy.
Don’t we have that same assumption about God, that He is a cruel master who has no concern about our feelings? Let me let you in on a secret--God wants us to be happy.
I am not a fan of the “name it and claim it” doctrine. This is the idea is that if we want anything from God all we have to do is claim it, we will have it. we can order God around like He is our servant.
But then it occurred to me—claiming blessing we would like but don't have is certainly wrong--but what about naming them? Have you ever actually tried naming to God specifically what you want? Just because God will do what He wants doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell God what we actually want. Maybe we need to get more honest with Him about what we really do want. Instead of explaining in advance why God won’t answer my prayers, maybe I should just try asking. God may surprise us with what He will actually give.
Before we start to make excuses for why we can't do something maybe we should actually ask Him for strength and ability. Ask and you receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open
Nehemiah asked the king to let him go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. The king not only granted his request, but gave letters of transit so that every governor he passed, and orders that they should be provided with all the wood they needed. All the nations he passed through were required to give him supplies.
God wants more for you than you are willing to ask. Don't doubt Him. Get real, trust in God, and God will give you what you need.