The enemies of the wall start a campaign sending letters of harassment.
v6 "And you are to be king according to these reports." An accusation that calls Nehemiah's motives into question. Also this makes Nehemiah feel like people are slandering him, like maybe his people aren't backing him up like he thought. "according to reports"
v9 Nehemiah calls him a liar and prays for strength.
v10 They try to scare him with reports of death threats, urging him to hide out in the temple.
His response - "Should a man like me flee?" (Prov.28:1 The wicked flee when no one is pursuing. But the righteous are bold as a lion.) "Could one such as I go into the temple to save his life?" Nehemiah was an important man, but he wasn't a priest. And God had made it clear that the sanctuary was off limits to a "man like Nehemiah." These men, who have only tried to take him down in the past, are now claiming to have his best interests in mine. They say they want to keep him safe. But what they are asking him to do is directly against God. They are playing on his emotions and fears, his sense of self-preservation, to lure him into sin. It just doesn't add up.
v12 Someone sent by God will never urge you urge you to sin against Him. Knowing God's voice is a result of being in His Word, and also spending time with Him in prayer.
v14 Praying again for God's remembrance. This time that he would remember the evil done to him.
v16 This wall could only have been built in 52 days if the Lord was behind it. God's work speaks for itself. Being obedient to what feels like an impossible task will shine the brightest light on the abilities of God to work through us.
"My Power is perfected through weakness." That verse always made me feel a little weird. I have to be weak in order for God to be strong? Does that sound right? No! God IS already strong. But when He uses the weak to carry out his mission, the ego of the person working doesn't get in the way of His Glory. When we read about this wall getting built, we never say, "Wow those priests and merchants were genius wall builders." No, we say, "Look what God did!"
Their enemies lost confidence. Nothing I could do on my own power could scare anyone. But when God flexes his muscles, people freak out.
v2 the description of Hananiah's character. "He was a faithful man and feared God more than many." What more is there to say?
v5 "Then God put it into my heart." When prayer is your habit, it becomes a 2-way communication. You recognize the voice of the Lord.
v8 I like to skim over these long lists of people and remember that God knew each one by name. He loved and provided for each person. And his promises extended to every one. Some of them were not part of the pure bloodline of Jews, and yet even before Christ bridged that gap, God showed His love for humanity of all nations.
v73 God's people are restored to their cities.
These are the examples of prayer that Nehemiah has given us so far:
BESEECHING PRAYER - a prayer to pray when you are in desperate need--weeping and mourning. Sometimes you don't even have words. Your tears are your prayers, and God hears every one. (Nehemiah 1:4)
SCRIPTURAL PRAYER - remembering God's words and promises and speaking them back to God. This is a prayer of thanksgiving, trust, and an act of faith. I like to think God loves it when we remember His words and apply them to our lives, even in conversation with Him. (Nehemiah 1:8-9)
PRAYER OF ACTION - when you are about to do something that you cannot do without God's help. Prayer for success in what you know God is leading you to do. If you like bold statements and beautiful words, this is a good time to pray those things! (Nehemiah 1:11)
SILENT PRAYER - prayer when you are in immediate need. There is no time for lengthy prayers full of descriptive beautiful words. Maybe it's just a single word, "Help!" (Nehemiah 2:4)
PRAYER OF EXULTATION - proclaiming God's work in your life. Making a statement that He is the reason for your success. In this instance, Nehemiah was just remembering that God's hand was on him, and that's why the king granted his request. Not all prayers start with, "Dear God..." You can pray this prayer while writing in your journal, posting on Facebook, or talking with a friend. It's a prayer of testimony. (Nehemiah 2:8)
HIDDEN PRAYER - sometimes God places something on your heart that is too precious or fragile to talk about it. It could be a hope or a dream. A task that seems impossible. And idea that is still forming. A desire of your heart that you can't even speak out loud to Him, let alone to anyone else. But he knows it. He put that desire in you. It's OK to have secrets that are just between you and Him. He's the Lover of your Soul.(Nehemiah 2:11)
PRAYER WITHOUT PREAMBLE - not what we think of as a "good Christian prayer." Sometimes But if you wait until your heart is "right" before you come to the throne, you may never get there. But God can handle your angry words and your raw emotion. Is your heart full of hate, pain, frustration, revenge, and all-out RAGE? You don't have to wait. Tell Him. He knows your pain. He hurts when you hurt. He is the One who heals hearts. Just go to Him. He's your Dad. See what He can do for you. And through you. Nehemiah trusted God with even his ugly emotions, and we can too. (Nehemiah 4:4-5)
PRAYER OF DISCOURAGEMENT - this is the prayer you pray when you are drowning. I pray this way a lot as a mom. Are you feeling out of your depth? Is fear taking over? Is your life and responsibility literally more than you can handle? Just praying this prayer has a way of fortifying you in a new way. Let the words, "I can't do this" remind you to lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus. You will be surprised how much lighter your heart feels when you stop carrying weight you were never meant to carry. Lean in to your weakness, and let the strength of the Lord take over. (Nehemiah 4:9-10)
PRAYER FOR FORTITUDE - when you see your friend sinking into despair. You know God is strong. You know He's going to see her through this hard time. But maybe she just can't see even the smallest glimmer of light at the end of her dark tunnel. She's weary from the fight, and the only prayers she's capable of are in the form of her weary tears. It's time for you to stand in the gap for her. It can be so hard to watch someone sink into spiritual mire. But the Truth about who God is, and who she is to Him, holds so much power over despair. "Do not be afraid. Remember God who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses...Our God will fight for you." Pray this on your own, but also speak these words in person, out loud. Let the truth wash over her. Be like Aaron to her, holding her weary arms up until her battle is over. (Nehemiah 4:14-20)
PRAYER FOR JUSTICE - when someone has wronged you in a terrible way. Betrayed your trust, took advantage of you, hurt you deeply. It's hard to blindly forgive them and trust that they won't do it again if given the chance. But holding onto the what ifs or contingency plans for next time is not truly forgiving them. It's holding on tightly to your heart and saying, I'll never let that happen again, because I'll never make myself vulnerable again. But that's a form of captivity. All people need closeness and vulnerability in their lives. Denying yourself that is like punishing yourself for someone else's crime. If you are afraid to trust someone who hurt you, even though all evidence shows that they have changed, let God take over. Tell God that you want the freedom that comes with trust. Tell Him that even though you are having trouble trusting the person who hurt you, that you trust HIM to make up the difference. And feel free to pray that God would punish them severely if they betray you again. Trust God with your heart, and trust God to hold others accountable. That's the only way to the freedom you want. He is faithful, He loves you, and He will fight for you. (Nehemiah 5:13)
PRAYER FOR REASSURANCE - when you are trudging through life, making good choices, and it feels like no one else can see the hard work you are doing, this is the prayer for you. A prayer that God would see the progress you are making and give you a sign that you're on the right path. A prayer that you would be able to see the fruit of your labor. It's a way of acknowledging that even if no one ever makes a big deal about you, you believe God when He says you're a big deal to Him. This is a prayer of letting go of your desire for pat on the back, because you trust God, you know He wants the best for you, and you know He sees you. It's a prayer that says you entrust Him with the scales of justice, and that you are not keeping score. (Nehemiah 5:14)
PRAYER FOR STRENGTH - when that thing in your life, or person, or situation seems ever-present and utterly relentless. They've discouraged you, gossiped about you, thwarted your plans, and even threatened your life! When it seems like you cannot go in. Pray for strength. "But now, O God, strengthen my hands." (Nehemiah 6:9)
PRAYER FOR DISCERNMENT - a prayer that is usually answered with time. Discernment requires that we know the voice of the Lord. That we have a relationship with Him, and are continually seeking His Will and understanding of His Word. When someone comes to you with a solution to your problem, but it doesn't seem to be the thing that would bring God glory, that is discernment. Someone sent by God will never urge you urge you to sin against Him. Knowing God's voice is a result of being in His Word, and also spending time with Him in prayer. (Nehemiah 6:12)
PRAYER FOR RETRIBUTION - does it seem wrong to pray that bad things would happen to bad people? You don't have to pray for the destruction of your enemy, but the prayer for retribution acknowledges that you have been wronged, and that nothing seems to have been done about it. It's laying your pain in the hands of the One who fights for you, who says, "Vengeance is Mine." And after you pray this prayer, you can get back to the work at hand. Because bitterness, grudges, and settling the score distract from what God has called you to do. (Nehemiah 6:14)
PRAYER THAT IS TWO-SIDED - when prayer is your habit, it becomes a 2-way communication. You recognize the voice of the Lord when He speaks to your heart. (Nehemiah 7:5)
Next time : Nehemiah 8 & 9