January 16, 2023
Successful People Prepare For Opportunities
Nehemiah - “I had never before appeared sad in his presence. So the king asked me, ‘Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.’ Then I was terrified, but I replied, ‘Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.’” (Nehemiah 2:2-3)
The moment Nehemiah had been waiting for had finally arrived. He had been praying for four months about the situation in Jerusalem. He had also been making plans for almost as long as he had been praying. Part of his prayer had been for the perfect opportunity to present his ideas to the king. Because he had prayed long and planned well, Nehemiah was ready.
Nehemiah’s “sad face” revealed that he had a great burden on his heart. He knew his request of the king involved great risk. However, Nehemiah had a burden he couldn't hide. His face revealed that he was getting discouraged. He may have been praying, "God, are you ever going to move? What’s going on?” Finally, the moment arrived and the king asked Nehemiah, "What's wrong?" Keep in mind that Nehemiah was literally scared to death. In those days it was a serious crime to be sad before the king. Kings were very fickle in those days. They didn't want any downers in their midst. If you frowned in the presence of the king you could get your head cut off. If you were depressed in the presence of the king, that was it! So, this was a real gamble for Nehemiah. Not only that, but Nehemiah was going to ask permission for a leave of absence. In those days if a king did not like your request, it meant he didn't like you. No wonder Nehemiah was frightened. On top of that he was about to seek permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem when the king had already said that the walls were not to be rebuilt! He was standing before a king who had the power of life and death. Nehemiah had every reason to be afraid.
It is a myth that leaders are never afraid. Courage is not the absence of fear but moving ahead in spite of your fear. This is the type of courage Nehemiah displayed when he faced the king. He was respectful and fulfilled his duties, but he also pressed toward the goal the Lord had placed before him. When the opportunities we have prayed and planned for present themselves to us, we also need to show the courage of Nehemiah, moving forward in spite of our fear toward the goals the Lord has placed before us.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Write out one thing you have been praying and planning for. Under the item, make a list of anything that frightens you about moving forward with your plans. Make that item a major subject of your prayers today and ask the Lord for courage. If you’re leading your family through the prayer and fasting emphasis, guide each member of your family to personally complete the exercise above then pray over each item as a family.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, help me today to have the courage of Nehemiah when he faced the king. Help me to follow Your will and move forward with the plans you have placed before me. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Today is Day Nine of the Prayer and Fasting emphasis. As you pray and fast today, ask the Lord to show you if fear is holding you back from His purposes for your life. To request a prayer partner or to download our prayer and fasting guide, see celebrationchurch.org/prayerfasting