It has been a tough season as the world emerges from 18 months where the spiritual, moral, health, mental, economic problems were swept under the carpet of so called lockdowns, when life went into standby. Now as nations emerge from this self imposed hibernation the problems that awaited did not wait for hibernation to finish, they piled up all the same.
The Lord is speaking very clearly at this time. We need to be able to hear, and not only hear, but identify with what the Lord speaks, and then do what is in our power to do.
Nehemiah identified the state of Jerusalem as his own problemTrue intercession starts our identification of our responsibility and God’s ability to resolve, and our availability for His use
Nehemiah heard the sorry state of Jerusalem and how the walls were demolished, the gates burned with fire, he immediately set about to 7 days of true sincere prayer before the Lord. He saw the problem as his own, his own fathers, and their responsibility of the state that the city was now in. God looks for our identification first, our personal, our family, our ancestory, responsibility. We can transfer the responsibility but we know that what our fathers set in motion we continue, we make the issues cultural and then we follow them. Nehemiah identified the contribution that covenant breaking made in the demise of the city, and in intercession put himself in the breach that was made and then prayed repentance. This type of praying has brought the most powerful revivals and awakenings of faith in the past. We need to look at the walls and gates of our nations and see how “Babylon” has made inroads, and how the city lies in ruins and misery. When we see lines of cars waiting for little fuel, supermarkets with empty shelves we must know the problem we see is not just a logistical one, it is a spiritual one. It reflects the shaking of structures, the demolishing of our trust in that which we depend on, and the fear which comes which promotes panic. This panic is produced when the human race which depends on everything other than God sees what they depend on shaken and fail. We are all the same, there are structures that we depend on, and the chaos we are now feeling shows how far we have come from God. The Glory of Solomon’s day or David’s day shows us a contrast here in the days of the Captivity. The walls had fallen and the gates burned with fire. The enemy could come in, destroy and spoil the people that were left there.
As we open social media and email we hear every day deaths of those we know, scarcity of what we once had, destruction of businesses and jobs, scarcity of finances, and it feels like the walls of our lives are being demolished, the doors of which we could shut out the enemy are now burned indeed. It seems in our lives each day marauders come in an out of the “city” of our lives to destroy further, to rob, to inflict, and disease ran rampant as the structures of sanitation have been destroyed.
In hearing this report in Nehemiah 1 he got down to prayer, and identified that the invasion of his nation, his own displacement is not that he is the victim, but that his fathers had sown the conditions for the situation. How many years of backsliding and covenant breaking was done, and in the reigns of evil kings even the Temple had images of false gods, and Yahweh had been largely forgotten. He did not pray for restoration but repentance. God gives repentance, it is proved in Zechariah 12, where God gives the “spirit of supplication” and as a result grace is given, the river flows to cleanse once again a nation riddled with death.
It is a great mistake to look for solutions in government and politics, even in addressing injustice, we are shying away from the first base, the one place Nehemiah saw his solution, in the place of prayer and supplication.
In the place of supplication Nehemiah identifies the solutionIt is in prayer we see that our dignity, our integrity and our prosperity is found
For so long we have neglected what is the most powerful of pursuits which bring the greatest of effects in society. We are not treating prayer as a new strategy, we are not praying for the benefits, we are praying because we recognise how far we have come away from that which brings us life and soundness. We have treated prayer as a list we present God of our needs and wants, without giving a second thought, what prayer really is. It is the meeting place, the dimension where we can develop fellowship with God. We read of Enoch, a man who walked with God. He was so into the simple fellowship with God that God was able to translate him so naturally because the dimension of that fellowship transcended the fallen natural existence that he simply walked in more and more where God was and where God is.
Could it not be that all what we see now, in terms of disease, poverty, chaos, injustice, corruption is God shaking us out of our complacency? Could it not be that all this we see is a mirror of what we have become? We can search for the most effective ways to read the Bible, prayer that brings results, Church growth projects, yet miss the very simplistic key to it all, returning to prayer to cultivate fellowship and ministry TO God, and not FOR God. We lift ministry to being what we DO FOR GOD, INSTEAD OF MINISTRY TO HIM. The greatest example of this in the Gospels is Mary, when she covered Jesus’ feet with perfume and tears, and wiped them with her hair. Jesus valued this humiliating act for Mary as the way to have the greatest heavenly esteem that Jesus Himself said would be remembered for all generations. So in returning to Nehemiah 1, we see 7 days of Nehemiah positioning himself to see how God would restore him and then his nation. That is how revival begins. We so readily talk about the false teachers abroad, sects and cults arising, instead of addressing where we are in this spiritual landscape.
Nehemiah saw his prayer not merely a spiritual exercise or strategy but a practical doorway which would appear and he would actWe need our spiritual exercises become practical executions
Nehemiah returned to his role as cupbearer but that prayer changed his countenance that the King noticed. Not only the king of the nation but the King of Kings noticed also. God opened a door of favour with the earthly king because his prayer touched the Heavenly King. His boldness to speak of his grief gave him favour and gave him open doors. It is time to see that our return to prayer and supplication is to make ourselves available to the King of kings because kings will turn to serve the King through us. The modern day Nehemiah is one who is not only prayed up but sees prayer as the first step in practicality. We have become too prayer minded thinking that prayer will be vaguely answered in a vague time, however in a time of crisis we need to have the mindset that our prayer in particular brings a personal responsibility in its answer. It is this mindset in the modern day Nehemiah that brings the reformers and brings the changes. Our meetings cannot be just the weekly activities that we do, rather they position us for preparing us for propelling us into the world arena to build the walls and gates that protect, provide for society the stability and protection it needs. It does not come from political resolve. It starts in a new approach to prayer. He did not do it alone, God caused others of the same spirit to join him in the effort. God does not just use individuals, he uses individuals to inspire the collective.
These have been strong and challenging words to a situation which is replicated over the world, through the nations. Instead of looking at this as a obstacle, it needs to be seen as an opportunity. The Church must become the modern day Nehemiah, so that in doing so it does not miss the opportunity to see the greatest harvest of souls in the shift this will need to move in the spirit of a modern day Nehemiah.