The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 2:4 (NIV)

There are many promises in the Bible. Of those many promises in the Bible, Matthew 6:33 and Proverbs 3:5-6 are two that are near and dear to my heart.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Sometimes things happen and we don’t have the opportunity to get down on our knees and ask God what He thinks while they’re happening. From conversations with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and strangers to driving and suddenly being in the middle of an accident. Sometimes, we may not have the time to get onto our knees and pray, but we can still ask God for help. We’ve all been blind-sided at least once in our life by something we didn’t see coming. How you might be thinking, can I be prepared in prayer?

We see in the book of Nehemiah that the king asked Nehemiah what he wanted, and Nehemiah prayed before he answered (Nehemiah 2:4). Note that the text doesn’t say, “Nehemiah told the king, ‘I’ve got to pray on it and get back to you.'” The text says, “I prayed to the God of heaven.” Often, we might think our prayers need to have some meat to them. I’ve heard people go over the Lord’s prayer and point out the different parts. From starting out with acknowledging God and His holiness, we go on from there, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It is Biblical. However, there’s no way Nehemiah had the time to pray, even such a short prayer, as the Lord’s prayer, in a second or two.

Nehemiah 1:1 tells us, “In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa” (NIV). For those who don’t know the Old Testament Jewish calendar. Kislev is November\December 25 in the Julian calendar and is 29 days in length. So, In November\December Nehemiah gets word of what’s going on in Jerusalem. The walls are still torn down (from 70 years previous when Jerusalem fell) and haven’t been rebuilt, and the remnant who had returned from exile were in trouble and disgraced (Nehemiah 1:3). Nehemiah’s first response to the news is to sit down, mourn, weep, fast, and pray to the Lord (Nehemiah 1:4).

I’ve mentioned the Lord’s prayer and how one can break it down into different elements that reveal how we can approach God in prayer. If you read Nehemiah’s prayer to the Lord, you’ll see these same elements there (Nehemiah 1:5-11). Nehemiah tells us he fasted and prayed “for some days” (Nehemiah 1:4 NIV). When we get to Nehemiah 2 we are told it was, “In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes” (Nehemiah 2:1 NIV). Nisan, in the Julian calendar, is March\April and is 30 days in length. Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king. While Nehemiah was bringing wine to the king, the king noticed Nehemiah was sad, so he asked him, “‘Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart'” (Nehemiah 2:2 NIV).

I don’t know about you but I’ve never worked in a job where my employer wants me to bring my private life to work with me. However, there are times when the events in our lives are so pervasive, they seem to seep into every aspect of our being. Such was the case with Nehemiah, so logically, when the king asked him why he was sad, Nehemiah was afraid. He “was very much afraid” (Nehemiah 2:2 NIV). While we might get fired from our jobs for letting our private life come to work with us, I think Nehemiah could have been thrown into prison or even executed. However, he said to the king, “‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’” (Nehemiah 2:3 NIV).

Let’s remember Nehemiah got the news in November\December about Jerusalem and now it’s March\April. It’s been four months, and Nehemiah is still forlorn. As any one of us might be, when we know our family is suffering. Now, when the king asks Nehemiah what he wants, we are told he prays. I’m going to out on a limb here and say, Nehemiah, didn’t stop praying after a few days, four months earlier. I can imagine him mourning and praying daily. Yet, he still prays before answering. Probably something like, “Lord, help me.”

When I read Nehemiah, I see someone who prayed for months before anything happened, and when something happened, prayed a little bit more. It also strikes me that Nehemiah still became afraid after all of that prayer. Didn’t Nehemiah trust God? How could he still be afraid? What was wrong with him? Does any of this sound familiar? All of these thoughts and ones like it have certainly gone through my mind more times than I can remember. Scripture tells us, “the cowardly” will go to hell (Revelation 21:8). When I look at Nehemiah though, I don’t see a coward. I see someone who was very afraid, sought God, and then did what needed to be done.

This is one thing prayer can do for us. When we seek a relationship with God daily, it becomes a good habit that brings life, health, strength, and courage to us. Although we might still get sick, and be afraid at times in our lives, we know we can turn to God. We know we can trust God because He’s not a stranger to us. I don’t know anyone who can meet someone once or twice a week for an hour or so and really get to know them. What marriage would succeed if the husband and wife only spent a few hours together each week?

Therefore, we can be prepared for anything that happens in our lives because God cannot be surprised. He’s walked before us. He knows all things. When you see that car headed your way, with nowhere to turn, you can cry out to Him. Will He stop the car? He could. However, you know, when you call out to God, and you trust Him, that He’s got your back.

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.