“For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid. So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days” (Nehemiah 6:13-15).
Nehemiah who had served as the King of Persia’s cupbearer had returned to Jerusalem to lead the people in rebuilding the walls around the city (Nehemiah 2:5-11). God’s people there were in great distress because without city walls the city lay defenseless from attacks from the enemies which surrounded them (Nehemiah 1:3). Nehemiah faced many challenges from the enemies of God’s people. His adversaries: (1) had accused him of attempting to rebel against the king (Nehemiah 2:19), (2) ridiculed the Israelites for their efforts (Nehemiah 4:3), (3) threatened to attack them as they worked on rebuilding the wall (Nehemiah 4:7-8), and (4) even plotted to kill Nehemiah himself (Nehemiah 6:1-14).
How was it that Nehemiah had prevailed from all of these threats he faced? He relied on God through the power of prayer! It is interesting to note throughout the book of Nehemiah how Nehemiah took all the challenges he faced to God in prayer. When he hears of the distress his people are under because the walls had been destroyed, Nehemiah prays to God about it (Nehemiah 1:4-11). When the King of Persia asks him what he wanted to request of him, Nehemiah prays to God at that very moment before giving the king his answer (Nehemiah 2:4). When facing the threats of his enemies, Nehemiah calls for God’s help to defeat them: “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity” (Nehemiah 4:4; cf. 6:14)! In addition, when his adversaries tried to make him afraid, Nehemiah cried out to God, “Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9). Regarding all his labors he had done on behalf of his people, Nehemiah asked for God’s favor to be upon him: “Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people” (Nehemiah 5:19).
Because he was such a man of prayer, it is of no surprise we observe Nehemiah, throughout the book, seeing God’s hand at work in his life. After returning to the Promised Land, Nehemiah tells his brethren of how “the hand of my God” had been upon him (Nehemiah 2:18). After confronting his adversaries, he told them: “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us” (Nehemiah 2:20). Regarding the plots of his enemies against him, Nehemiah speaks of how God had “brought their plot to nothing (Nehemiah 4:15). Because of his close prayer life with God, Nehemiah was able to perceive that those who attempted to deceive him were not actually sent to him by God (Nehemiah 6:12).
I find great encouragement regarding the power of prayer when I observe the life of Nehemiah. He is a great example of what it means to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As I observe his life, I learn that I can better see God’s hand at work in my own life when I am staying continually connected to God by praying to Him throughout the day. I rejoice that God encourages me to communicate to Him. He encourages me to be persistent in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). Today, I will strive to grow in being more consistent in my prayer life and to “pray without ceasing”!
“As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:16-17).