Prayer is taking Action in Faith

“Prayer is Taking Action in Faith”

Nehemiah 4:7-18

Those living on faith in God’s ability walk in conversation with Him daily.

God’s Help Needed

Work in Expectation


God’s Help Needed

Nehemiah 4:1-9, NKJV

7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.    

            The temple had been rebuilt and worship restored to the nation of Israel. The walls were still in disarray throughout the reestablishing of God’s people in Jerusalem to this point. Nehemiah was a cup bearer for King Artaxerxes who reigned over the Persian Empire from the city of Sushan, also known as Susa. He was not an engineer or stone mason but was a slave born in captivity who was loyal to God and the restoration of God’s people. Yet, God took him from a cup-bearer in the Persian Empire to be governor in Jerusalem to serve the people of God.

            Nehemiah’s name is significant. His loyalty to God and desire for the Lord was passed down through the years in his family. Nehemiah means “Compassion of Yahweh”. Every time his name was said or heard would be a reminder to the people of God of the Lord’s compassion upon them even in captivity. Nehemiah rejoiced in knowing God’s people were allowed to return and live in their homeland again. This is revealed in the way he asked Hanani on his return from Judah for information about what was going on in Jerusalem.

            God revealed to Nehemiah through Hanani’s report the vulnerable state Jerusalem was in with the walls and gates broken down. Nehemiah’s heart broke over this fact and longed that God would do something to fix the problem he now knew about. It is interesting that Nehemiah desired God to do something, but accepted the reality God may want him to be personally involved in the solution. There was nothing Nehemiah knew to do personally; he just knew something had to be done. His only advantage was the respect and audience of the king he enjoyed because of his position. This was expressed by Nehemiah when he said, “11 …let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man” (Nehemiah 1:11, NKJV).

            Nehemiah turned to the Lord concerning what must be done to change in Jerusalem in order to bring safety to God’s people and magnify God’s name among the nations. Nehemiah did what should be done by all of God’s people even today when faced with a problem. Turning to the Lord in full knowledge and faith that God desires to use His people to reflect His glory or allow others to see it through them and their physical circumstances must be done with all resources available. Nehemiah said to the king,

7 …“If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

9 Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel. (Nehemiah 2:7-10, NKJV)

            Nehemiah boldly made his petition to the king of Persia to secure the city of Jerusalem by giving him letters which would allow him permission to travel and gather supplies at the government’s expense to rebuild the walls and gates. God had softened the heart of the Persian king toward Nehemiah because of his faithful service and outstanding integrity in service. His character was the result of submission to the Lord in by doing all things as though he was doing them unto the Lord. Nehemiah’s life of humility before the Lord and desire to see the name of God lifted up above everything else provided the opportunity for him to use his influence over the king to reveal God’s compassion for His people.

            Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and quietly examined the walls and gates of Jerusalem before revealing his intentions and purpose for returning.

11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode. 13 And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. 15 So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me.

So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work. (Nehemiah 2:11-18, NKJV).

 The walls and gates began improving due to Nehemiah’s dependency upon the Lord’s direction rather than his knowledge of the rebuilding process and organizational skills. Now, the people in the surrounding nations became angry because they saw their influence over and control of Jerusalem being threatened by what appeared to them as the efforts of the people.

            The prayer Nehemiah and the people made to God went beyond the words they said to God, but the actions they took based on their faith in God to do what God called them to accomplish for God’s glory. The people of God were offering up their prayers to God in what they were doing with their hands. This is a perfect example of God’s instructions through Apostle Paul,

5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men (Ephesians 6:5-7, NKJV)

17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17, NKJV)

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life… (Philippians 2:14-16, NKJV)

            God is Master of His people. Therefore, everything the child of God does should be a prayer of submission to the Father through living by their faith. Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem continued striving to accomplish the task God had set before them in spite of the threats and anger of the people surrounding them.

            Prayer is taking action in faith because God’s help is recognized as the most important element of everything that is done in the life of God’s people. The watch was set by Nehemiah to commit their resources to the service of God. Nehemiah trusted the protection of God which was why he once again took the resources he had and placed them in the Lord’s hands to be used if God chose to work in that manner. The appointment of a watch allowed the Lord to use His people as He chose to use them because they positioned themselves in expectation of being used by God to do something.

            The preparation of God’s people is a visible illustration of their expectation that God is going to do what He has promised to accomplish. The watch was the visible evidence of the reality of God’s presence watching over them. Could God drive back their enemies without their intervention or help? Of course He could. However, God may choose to drive back the enemies by employing the people to serve as the defenders of the city as well. Action taken in faith that God will allow His people to be part of His work here upon the earth will be seen in His people’s physical preparations. The preparation and work of God’s people should different from the preparation and work of those who are depending upon themselves rather than God.

Work in Expectation

Nehemiah 4:10-18, NKJV

10 Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”

11 And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.”

12 So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, “From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us.”

13 Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

15 And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. 16 So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. 17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. 18 Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.         

            Repairing the wall and gates of the city after being in disrepair for over seventy years was a task greater than the strength and knowledge of the people. The threat of the enemies of God’s people was real. Ignoring the danger was impossible. Refusing to acknowledge the severity of the task before them would be foolishness. Nehemiah’s response to both these challenges was to prayerfully commit all the resources of Jerusalem to the Lord to accomplish what seemed to them and their enemies to be impossible.

            Nehemiah’s prayerful response both in what he said to the people and the actions he took reminded the people God would work through them to protect them personally and complete through them all He commanded them to do. The unity of Nehemiah’s words, actions, and direction he gave to the people illustrated their confidence that God was inviting them to be a witness to all the Lord was doing for and through His people. This pattern of God employing His people to perform certain tasks has been evident from the moment mankind was created by God.

            God called mankind to care for and manage all He had created, “27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:27-28, NKJV). God could have easily cared for and managed all He created, but instead He invited mankind to be part of His work so they would learn about Him through interacting with what He had made.

            God called Noah to take part in giving a testimony to the destruction the Lord was bringing upon the whole earth due to the sinfulness of all mankind, “13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch” (Genesis 6:13-14, NKJV). God had Noah build the ark as a demonstration of his faith that God was going to bring about promised destruction.

            God has called the body of Christ, the Church, to also join Him in giving a testimony to the world of the salvation that He alone brings about in the lives of people. Jesus told His disciples, “35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors” (John 4:35-38, NKJV). Apostle Paul affirms that God’s people take part in the work only God can truly accomplish, “7 …neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7, NKJV).

            All the efforts of the people would be fruitless to rebuild the wall, repair the gates, and enjoy safety from their enemies in their knowledge, ability, and determination. The people of God must join the Lord in what He has called them to do in order to enjoy in the miraculous acts which God brings about in the world to reveal His glory in creation. A person who refuses to take part in what God is calling them to join Him in doing in spite of the challenges and difficulties that will be faced should never expect to witness the glory and power of God personally, or be a witness among the nations of the presence of God.

            Take time to read through the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Take note of all the things each of the disciples would have missed out on doing, seeing, and learning for themselves that Jesus was truly the Messiah of God who was bringing forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to all who would believe on the name of the Son of God. Apostle John was inspired to write near the end of his gospel account, “30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31, NKJV).

            Nehemiah and the people presented themselves unto God as a prayer by the actions they took in response to the task at hand and the threats against them. They worked in expectation that God would provide the strength and wisdom to accomplish what was impossible for them to do in their own strength and knowledge. They prepared themselves to be used of God to fight off the enemy. They gave themselves over to the work before them trusting God would help them overcome what they lacked in skill. What the people of Jerusalem, under the leadership of Nehemiah as their governor, accomplished would have never been possible if they had not accepted the call of God to take part in the work He was doing for His glory before all the nations.

                        God is calling all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord over their life to join Him in revealing His glory in this world. Jesus’ purpose can be seen in His prayer to the Father in John 17 that His actions during His ministry on earth prepared His disciples to take part in,

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:20-23, NKJV)

Jesus later revealed this intention to His disciples immediately before His ascension to the Father when He commanded them, “15 …Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15, NKJV).

            Prayer is taking action in faith is a lifestyle that exemplifies making decisions that are based upon the character of God rather than what makes sense to the abilities, knowledge, and logic of mankind. Life lived in response to the reality of the promises of God instead of the limitations of self and the sinfulness of mankind reveals the glory of the Lord in doing the impossible every day.

            There are those who go without many basic needs being met in their life; yet God provides them the strength to continue on in spite of the absence of necessities. The miraculous provisions of God are revealed daily through God’s merciful supply to those who refuse to accept Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins or even acknowledge that He exists. The testimony of God’s presence and His provisions are revealed whenever God’s people choose to trust rather than worry, bless those who curse them, and find it more satisfying to live by faith instead of sight (Matthew 5:10-12, 6:25-34; 7:24-27).

            The people of Nehemiah’s day encountered great opposition in following the Lord in the physical task that God set before them. The body of Christ is challenged with an even greater spiritual calling in the present age which also is beyond the ability of those called to accomplish the will of the Father. Praise the Lord for His Spirit who empowers the people of God to do the miraculous.

           God is calling us to join Him in what He is doing where the children of God find themselves. God calls His people to surrender their resources to Him regardless of how plentiful or few they may be in the eyes of His people. Remember, Nehemiah had the exact same resource all people do that God can and will do miraculous things through if given the opportunity.

            Nehemiah offered himself to the Lord even though he was a slave with no real authority to choose for himself, or make any difference in the plight of God’s people back in Jerusalem. Nehemiah prayed to God in word and deed, offering himself to the Lord for His will to be done. God can and will do the miraculous through the prisoner sitting in a cell, the homeless with nowhere to go, the one who is financially independent, a person of great influence, and everyone in between these extremes who love and serve Him wholeheartedly. Prayer is taking action in faith when the people of God expected and desire to join the Lord in all that He is doing around them.

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