After insisting for over 24 hours on writing what I thought should be the lesson for today, I finally gave up and asked the Lord to show me what I should write. As soon as I gave up, the Lord showed me something in this verse that I have often seen without getting the impact of the words.
We saw yesterday how Nehemiah was devastated by the news about the remnant in Jerusalem and about the city of God, Jerusalem. His reaction is where we got our lesson for yesterday. Nehemiah was a man driven by the zeal for God. As the Lord would have it, it is still in Nehemiah’s reaction that we get the lesson for today as well.
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4
Interestingly, Nehemiah is not alone in this type of reaction to desperate or depressing news. Here are some more examples:
We saw this a few days ago in Ezra’s reaction to the news about the sins of the remnant in Jerusalem.
While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Ezra 10:1
We also saw Daniel’s reaction when he learned that the time set for captivity had come to an end.
In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:1-3
Queen Esther had the same reaction when she learned about the destruction of all the Jews that was planned by Haman.
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish. Esther 4:15-16
One thing is clear from these four examples – these people were desperate for God’s intervention in their lives or circumstances. There is no question all of them were desperate because of what they did.
- In contrast to these individuals, it seems to me that we are more interested in telling the Lord what we want from Him. Prayer has become more like an ATM bank card whose sole purpose is to withdraw money. But God is a living being. He needs to know how desperate you are about your needs.
- The Old Testaments saints understood the role of fasting and putting on sackcloth in time of need. We have a lot to learn from them about how to approach God when we are desperate.
- No wonder God says:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
- Nehemiah said, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
- Do you often show humility before the Lord when you are in need or you are quick to tell Him what you want?
- Have you fasted in your life?
i. For how long?
ii. What circumstances drove you into fasting?
iii. What were the results?
iv. Is this a habit you have adopted?
v. How do you show God that you are truly desperate?
- It is important to know that God is not only interested in hearing what we need from Him, but more importantly, how desperate we are to get it.
When I heard these things,
I sat down and wept.
For some days I mourned and fasted
And prayed before the God of heaven
Do you have a need and want to go to the Lord in prayer.
IT IS THE HOW FIRST, THEN THE WHAT!
Read: Nehemiah 1:1-4
Pastor Shadrack Ruto