January 14, 2023
Effective Praying Requires Being Part of the Solution
Nehemiah - “Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” (Nehemiah 1:11)
Nehemiah started praying as soon as he heard about the situation in Jerusalem which was probably around late November. If we read ahead to Nehemiah chapter 2, we see that God began answering Nehemiah’s prayers the following March or April. What that tells us is that Nehemiah didn’t just pray once or twice for Jerusalem. He kept on praying for 4-5 months. Then, at the right time, God began to move in response to Nehemiah’s prayers.
This is what God did - He changed the heart of a pagan king who was known as a tyrant. God changed the king’s heart in such a way that it opened a doorway of opportunity for Nehemiah to talk with him about all that was happening in Jerusalem. This same king allowed Nehemiah to be temporarily absent from his position so he could oversee the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. The king even provided the resources, the provision, and the protection the Nehemiah needed in order to begin the project. This is the same king who had earlier decreed that the rebuilding in Jerusalem should cease, but now, because Nehemiah had spent time in passionate, purposeful, and persistent prayer, the king’s mind and heart were changed.
Jesus once said, “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7). If Jesus says that we should keep on asking, looking, and knocking, it is only natural to assume that our prayer lives should transform into what he is suggesting. Many of us have been praying for friends or family members to be saved. Others have been praying for restored marriage or family relationships. Still others of us have been praying for wisdom regarding a certain situation in our lives. Whatever we’ve been praying for, Jesus is saying, “Keep on asking. Keep on looking. Keep on knocking. Don’t give up.”
Our persistent prayers just might be the key to us seeing amazing things happen. If we keep on praying, it shows that we care and are serious about the subject of our prayers. The practice of persistent prayer is one of the marks of a true leader. Richard Elworth Day, in his book Filled With The Spirit, writes: “It would be no surprise if a study of secret causes were undertaken to find that in every Golden Era of human history it proceeds from the devotion and righteous passion of a single individual. There are no bonafide mass movements; it just looks that way. At the center of the column there will always be one person who knows his God and knows where he is going.” He’s talking about leadership.
All of us are leaders because leadership is influence. We all have influence in one area or another. The issue is not whether we are leaders, it's whether we are good leaders. The first step in leadership is developing a private time with God - a personal, daily, devotional walk. If we want to be leaders, we need to spend time developing our prayer lives. We need to learn to pray like Nehemiah prayed. Then we will watch the doors of heaven open up because “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Read over your prayer list and ask yourself, “Which of these items deserve my continual prayers?” Then challenge yourself to persistently pray over each item until you see God move or hear God speak about it. If you’re leading your family through this time, review your prayer list with your family and allow them the opportunity to challenge each other to continue praying for each item listed.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, during these 14 days of prayer and fasting, help us to present our requests to You like we truly care about each one. Then, help us to keep on asking, looking, and knocking, passionately and persistently praying for You to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Today is the last day of the first week of our Prayer and Fasting Emphasis. If you’ve stuck to it, great job! If you’ve fallen behind, jump back in and join us for the next seven days. If you have yet to start, there’s no time like the present. To request a prayer partner or to download our prayer and fasting guide, see celebrationchurch.org/prayerfasting