Nehemiah was sad, and that was an occupational hazard. He was the scribe of the king, a king who could kill on whim. Anyone in service of the king was well advised to appear loyal, devoted, and sublimely joyful before the king — but Nehemiah was sad. Nehemiah must have been of sterling character because the king not only noticed, but asked Nehemiah about his sadness. Despite his terror, Nehemiah kept a godly perspective before the king. Before telling the King exactly what was on his heart, Nehemiah took a moment to pray.

Nehemiah’s prayer must have been short. Although the content of the prayer is not revealed, it was said in the span of time between the asking and answering of the question. Nehemiah stood before Artaxerxes, but he also stood before the God of Heaven. What courage prayer gave Nehemiah. Prayer permeates the book of Nehemiah, just as it obviously permeated Nehemiah’s life. A theme statement for the book and a motto for Nehemiah’s life is summed up in Nehemiah 2:4b, “So I prayed to the God of Heaven.”

God’s people are characterized by prayer. Short prayers like Nehemiah 2:4, long prayers like Nehemiah 9-10, and prayers in between. Whether standing before a government official, a neighbor, a friend, or foe, God’s people can say, “So I prayed to the God of Heaven.”

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash


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