How to Pray for Strength Like Nehemiah

As we struggle to rebuild our lives and find a new normal, we can turn to this biblical figure for encouragement and inspiration.

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Posted in , May 28, 2020

Pray for strength like Nehemiah

After months of being isolated at home, we are all trying to figure out how to get back to work, to church—how to find the new normal for our lives. The elders of the church where I am pastor are also looking ahead. When can we safely return to campus for worship? We want to be thoughtful and prayerful about the process. I've found that one of the best books in the Bible for lessons on rebuilding is the Book of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah, often referred to as the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes of Persia, was deeply moved by the damage done to Jerusalem and its inhabitants. His heart was with those suffering, and his focus turned to rebuilding the once-great city.

Nehemiah was also a man of prayer; it shaped who he was and how he lived. He prayed his way into and through the spiritual, social and political problems of his time. He worked and prayed at the same time, trusting God for success. 

Nehemiah’s prayers included:

  • Help for those suffering in Jerusalem
  • Guidance for when and how to return and rebuild the city
  • Support from the king so that Nehemiah could leave his position to do God’s work
  • Success for the work of his heart and hands 
  • Fortitude to handle those who mocked him and tried to discourage him
  • Strength when his enemies sought to stop him
  • Encouragement for the people of Jerusalem to seek God’s way

Prayer empowered Nehemiah to push through the obstacles of rebuilding Jerusalem. Every time he talked to God, he was emboldened to lay one more brick on the protective wall he was constructing around the beleaguered city. His confidence grew with each prayer. His enemies couldn’t discourage him. God’s strength ensured the work he started was completed. Favor and success were granted. Nehemiah went from being a cupbearer to governor of Jerusalem. 

I can’t help but think of my childhood pastor who faced a huge problem when the church building, which was being renovated, collapsed. Our congregation no longer had a place to worship. He stood in front of the rubble of the building and prayed with the people for strength and faith. His leadership and prayers injected confidence that together we would overcome this setback and build a new house of worship. Three years later, we returned to the place that was once a pile of wreckage and worshipped God. 

As we think about what it means to re-enter life after months of isolation, to return to our houses of worship and build a new normal, let’s take a lesson from Nehemiah and pray. It will give us confidence and strength and endurance for the road ahead.

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