July 17 I Saturday
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” —Romans 12:12
What is our first response when a problem arises? When Nehemiah was faced with oppositions and threats from others while he was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he remained faithful to the task at hand, because his first response to those problems was with prayer.
Nehemiah prayed, “Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads” (Nehemiah 4:4). Even when hostility arose repeatedly, Nehemiah’s reaction was found on his knees praying to God. In fact, if we did a word study on “prayer,” throughout the book of Nehemiah, we would find that Nehemiah was a man of prayer.
Some of us may have a perception of prayer as needing plentiful volume, intensity and urgency. Thinking if we have a lot people praying hard enough, we might somehow put sufficient pressure on God to get a response from Him. But prayer is not trying to persuade a reluctant God to do something. Prayer is simply an expression of our dependence on God and surrendering our situation into His hands. What Nehemiah did when he prayed was relay the situation to God. Even though the battle was against him, he took the battle and gave it to God.
Paul tells us in the New Testament, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). There are some things in life that cause us anxiety, such as our personal life, family and work, but Paul encourages us to pray and give them up to God. It is possible to pray about our problems, and still carry them as though they are still our own. Yet, we will know we have released our problems to God when we see them as grounds for thanksgiving, not for deliverance from the situation, but in the midst of the situation. Hence, the language of trust is not “please,” but “thank You, Lord.” Paul continues, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). There are three key phrases: give it to God, thank Him and experience His peace.
Despite oppositions, Nehemiah and his men were able to complete rebuilding the wall in 52 days. Nehemiah tells us, “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16). When we face our battles on our knees as prayer warriors, we are fighting those battles with God on our side.
Prayer: Lord God, You hear my prayers and my petitions. Thank You that I can surrender my circumstances into Your hands, and that I can trust in You to act on my behalf.