Back to Nehemiah. Because I’m reading and rereading, patterns start to show up for me. One pattern is Nehemiah’s mixture of praying and doing.
Lots of people who follow God pray and do nothing, waiting for a miracle or a voice from heaven. Others do something and don’t pray, assuming that God may not be interested in little things. Nehemiah’s approach challenges both of those groups.
Early in the story, Nehemiah is serving the king. After a brief exchange about Nehemiah’s sadness, we read:
The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
Months later, when Nehemiah and his community were in the middle of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, a group of people were ticked off.
They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
Still later, there were more plots. And Nehemiah says,
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking “Their hands will get too weak for the work and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “now strengthen my hands.” 6:9
I have some thoughts about what we might be able to learn from Nehemiah. But I’m curious. Before I talk more, what do you think? What do these comments about Nehemiah’s approach to praying and doing suggest to you about praying and doing?