“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
“O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man. I was cupbearer to the King. In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes when wine was brought to him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad before in his presence before; so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.””
What a wonderful picture of patient, persistent praying. Nehemiah was a Godly Hebrew man who had been taken off into exile and made into a slave, serving as a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in his royal court at Susa. This was a dangerous occupation, being responsible to taste the King’s food and wine in order to make sure that it was not poisoned. As a Godly man Nehemiah was always hungering for news and information about God’s people and their land. When distressing news arrived it hurt Nehemiah deeply so he did what every Godly person must do when distressing news arrives, he began to grieve, and fast, and pray to God for deliverance. Not only did Nehemiah pray but it seems as if, from the text, he also recruited others to pray with him for the success of what he felt was his new calling in life. His prayer was “give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man.” Favour was needed because as a slave Nehemiah could not just walk into the King’s presence and make his request. He had to receive an invitation to speak. Even then to make a request of the King could easily lead to Nehemiah’s death if the king did not receive it graciously. So he and his companions prayed, and waited. Daily they prayed and waited. Four at least four months they prayed and waited.
In God’s providence the day for an answer came. Nehemiah’s mood shone through his carefully guarded features. The King noticed and asked him about the reason behind his sadness. Nehemiah says, “I was much afraid, but I said to the King…” Prayer was answered in that day. It took four long months of praying and waiting. Here we discover a vital lesson which we must learn and abide in if we are ever to become successful prayer warriors. This is a willingness to pray persistently and patiently, looking for the Lord to open for us the door to and answer. What are the key principles which we must apply to our praying in these days?
- We must have a commitment to Biblical Godliness as we serve the Lord in that place that He has put us. This does not mean that we do not pray for change but we need to recognise that change comes in God’s time.
- We must pray with others for the change we seek.
- We must be specific in the things that we pray for. Nehemiah and his companions made specific requests of God.
- We must expect God to answer. They prayed that the Lord would grant them favour today.
- We must patiently persevere in our praying. Nehemiah continued to pray and patiently look for God’s answer.
- We must be ready for God to answer. God’s open door should never catch us by surprise.