(You can now listen to today's MY Devotional on Leading The Way's daily devotional podcast!)
Read Nehemiah 2:1-10. At the moment when God began to answer the four-month-long prayer of Nehemiah—when Nehemiah's waiting was finally over—how do you think he responded? Nehemiah confessed that when King Artaxerxes asked him why he seemed sad (the opportunity for which he had been waiting), he was very afraid.
Nehemiah was afraid, but he prayed through his fear, and he obeyed God in spite of his fear.
That's right, Nehemiah was fearful, but there's nothing wrong with being afraid. Anyone who claims to attempt great things for God without a sense of fear and trepidation is not being honest. Because even heroes experience fear. The difference between a coward and a hero is not that a hero feels no fear, but that a hero won't let fear get in the way of his or her duty.
Nehemiah was afraid, but he prayed through his fear, and he obeyed God in spite of his fear. Because he had remained in an attitude of prayer for the past four months, the hotline between Nehemiah and the Lord was open, and the Lord gave Nehemiah the words he needed to make an audacious request of the king.
Nehemiah asked King Artaxerxes to let him have time off to go and rebuild Jerusalem—an act that had been irrevocably prohibited by a prior king. Not only was Nehemiah asking King Artaxerxes to use his power to illegally revoke the prior order (a request for which Nehemiah could have been executed), he also asked for the king's protection and funding for the whole project!
Where did Nehemiah get the courage to make such a bold request? It came from the Spirit of God during Nehemiah's four months of prayer, fasting, and weeping. Nehemiah listened in prayer to receive the detailed plans for the rebuilding of the city and the temple, including the plan to have King Artaxerxes finance the reconstruction of Jerusalem.
I believe King Artaxerxes was honored by the boldness of Nehemiah's request. In fact, I believe Nehemiah's bold request is intended to teach us something about prayer. By asking the king to provide him with services and materials worth millions of dollars, Nehemiah acknowledged the vast scope of the king's power and the endless extent of the king's resources. Likewise, when we go to God with bold and audacious requests, daring to ask Him to do the impossible and to lavish His resources upon us, we actually glorify, honor, and please Him.
Prayer: Father, when You open doors of opportunity for Your Kingdom, may I have the courage of Nehemiah to step out in faith in spite of fear. Help me to remember that I cannot out-ask You so that I might come to You boldly requesting great things for Your Kingdom. As I pray, prepare me for whatever work You would have me do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).