(May 26, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh continues her Nehemiah series, challenging us to know that God has a plan for us…
Nehemiah is different from leaders in the 21st century in one very important way. He did not have fresh news reports from five different sources humming in his ears or reflecting in his mind on a daily basis like you and me. A good leader will prayerfully limit his or her exposure to news reports.
Look for ‘God’s report,’ not news reports
During the early twentieth century, a young man named Lester Sumrall used to visit the well-known evangelist, Smith Wigglesworth.
Wigglesworth was known for miracles, wonders, and the power of God in his ministry. Sumrall was dedicated to serving Jesus, to respond to the call of God on his life and there was a season when both men were in England and Wigglesworth would mentor the younger man.
Sumrall said that the first time he visited Smith Wigglesworth, he came to his front door with a newspaper in his hand. Wigglesworth would not allow the paper into his house and made Sumrall leave it outside! Wigglesworth’s wife Polly had taught her husband to read the Bible and he often stated that it was the only book he ever read.
Wigglesworth was looking for ‘the report of the Lord,’ not any news reports!
Bad news about Jerusalem and God’s people
There were no newspapers in Nehemiah’s day, but he heard more interesting tidbits of news than most people in the Persian Empire. As King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer he was brought into confidential relations with the king, and regarded as thoroughly trustworthy, part of his duty being to guard against poison in the king’s cup.
Nehemiah was called on to be right beside the king and would know which news items were announced to the people and which news items were kept secret by the king.
One particular day, someone Nehemiah loved and trusted came to town – his brother Hanani, but with an unhappy report about Jerusalem. And men from Judah who came with Hanani verified the report.
Nehemiah had reliable resources here. He had asked his brother what was happening to the Jews and how were things in Jerusalem. Hanani’s report immediately saddened Nehemiah, especially as his brother’s friends confirmed his depressing report, which in recorded in Nehemiah 1:3-4 as follows…
From news to knees
‘They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.’
What an incredibly amazing man of God and intercessor Nehemiah was!
On hearing this dreadful report, he was immediately driven to his knees as it were, sitting down and weeping. He acted as though the people in distress and reproach were his own children and Jerusalem encompassed the walls of his own house.
Nehemiah went into mourning and fasting and praying for days following this report!
What about you?
Have you ever receive a report that brought you to your knees like this? Can you remember a time in your life when you were so burdened for someone or felt such compassion for a group of people that you wept, prayed, and fasted?
Perhaps God is stirring your heart today to pray. If so, please read the following Nehemiah 1:5-11 prayer that Nehemiah prayed – and let the Holy Spirit lead you into your own intercession for the people and the city that you love:
‘I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let your ear now be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant which I am praying before you now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against you; I and my father’s house have sinned.
“We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which you commanded your servant Moses.
“Remember the word which you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause my name to dwell.’
“They are your servants and your people whom you redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, I beseech you, may your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and the prayer of your servants who delight to revere your name, and make your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.”’
‘This man’ was of course Artaxerxes, to whom Nehemiah was in a very high and honoured position, especially for a Jew. He knew that the king would not be pleased to find his cupbearer so downcast as he was not normally so! Hence his prayer for others included requested compassion from the king so that he could move ahead in God’s calling (as we’ll learn in chapter two).
God heard Nehemiah’s prayer – for Jerusalem and God’s people – and his concern about going before the king. The result success of that encounter I’ll share about later in this series.
One thing I want to highlight here is that if you are at present deeply touched for people in some area and are caring and praying as was Nehemiah, know that our loving God has heard your prayers too! He will attend to your requests.
Let what happened with Nehemiah be an encouragement to you… especially if you know that you too have been called to build some ‘wall’ that God has spoken to you about.
Nehemiah would be granted that compassion he prayed for… and with God’s enablement rally, encourage and bless his people back in Jerusalem. God knows your concerns, your intercessions and He will be you too in building your wall as He was with Nehemiah.
Hope Flinchbaugh is currently writing a cover story for Charisma and busy in children’s ministry. Editor-in-chief of Hope Editors, a special team helping publishers and authors, Hope has also written three historical fiction novels and two nonfiction books.
Her love for children is evident in her delightful Baby Babbles series… available from Amazon Author Page or International Orders Here and her I Come to the Garden Alone is an inspiring daily devotions booklet. Link: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com