top of page

Defaulting to Prayer (Nehemiah 1-2)

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

-Nehemiah 1:4

We are a very reactive people. News articles, online videos, mass-emails and websites are all aiming now to spark a strong reaction within seconds of our viewing their content. Society is undergoing an epidemic of lewdness, vulgarity, and intentionally shocking content, because what is now valued is not the quality of content but the shock value of its presentation. Due to its ability to grab attention, often by sheer curiosity, it is believed to result in more views, sales, and success. Some Christian evangelists, albeit sincere, have also begun to favor shock value, drawing curiosity to their ministries by highlighting someone’s offense at the gospel, or a particularly rude heckler. Not all such content comes from a wrong spirit, but it is dangerous when the drawing point is no longer the work of the Holy Spirit or techniques for reaching people, or even an invitation to intercede in earnest prayer for this angry, lost soul. Instead, the attraction in many cases is sensational footage.

Meanwhile, news headlines tell of shocking developments with sweeping consequences, but often upon exploring an article’s content, nothing very noteworthy has actually happened. This occurs even in the Christian world. It is good to recognize it and thus avoid being swept up in it.

But more importantly, we need to recognize that we have an enemy of our souls who is also very interested in causing strong reactions. The devil often uses the sum total of various smaller challenges or circumstances to paint a bigger picture that overwhelms and discourages us. We may be lured into dissensions and outbursts of wrath (Galatians 5:19-20). We can even be driven to despair, if we are not careful, simply through the concerted demonic battle strategy against our faith.

But God says to us, “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). Yes, our faith is tested; the world, the flesh, and the devil poke and prod at it. But God says, if you learn to react by holding onto Me, rather than acting on the impulse of the flesh, I can produce the good fruit of patience within your life. How do we hold onto God in trying circumstances? No matter where we are - on the sidewalk, in our homes, on the subway, in our workplaces, on vacation, or in a jail cell - God hears our prayers, and His help is but one earnest word away. He says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15).

The Lord is working to make prayer our default reaction. When Nehemiah received news that the exiles were in great distress and the city of Jerusalem in a state of destruction, he could have lost his faith. Without the incredible lifeline of a living God who could hear his prayers, the man’s tears may not have been tears of intercession. A prayerless Nehemiah may have easily thought, “God has given up on us, allowed us to be destroyed. How could He do this to us? Maybe He is not who He said He is after all.” How quickly we can lose heart without prayer! At times, we are faced with only two options: earnest prayer, or a flood of disappointment and even anger at God, which can fester into unbelief. God allows moments in which earnest prayer is the only path that will carry us further in the faith, and any other path will lead backward and eventually out of the faith entirely.

By God’s grace, Nehemiah’s heart ran home to the Father, tears and all. He poured out his reaction to the Lord. Little did he know it at the time, but because he had cried into the ear of God, He was about to open wide the ear of the king to give Nehemiah everything he needed in answer to his prayers. The king asked him without reservation, “What do you request?” (Nehemiah 2:4). We do not always know how, but when prayer is our default reaction, we discover that God has all the hope and strength we could ever need, as well as endless resources to provide us help in time of need.

-Pastor Alex

275 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page