Pray Like It Depends on God (Nehemiah 1-3)

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)

Being a person of prayer doesn’t mean that you never take action.  However, it does mean that you have an understanding that your actions will fall utterly flat unless they’re the actions that God has directed you in doing.  Such was the story of Nehemiah.

The Holy Spirit put within Nehemiah’s heart the desire to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem to protect the Israelites.  The problem was he was a cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes, and to leave and rebuild such a wall would be viewed as treason against the king.  Knowing what he needed to do, Nehemiah approached the king with his great request to leave and rebuild the wall, but before he made his request, we learn that he prayed.

He understood something incredibly important that we need to understand, too.  Saint Augustine said it this way: “Pray as though everything depended on God and act as if everything depended on you.”  For something miraculous to happen, it does depend on God.  But to think that you have nothing to do in the process is short-sighted.

God uses people to accomplish His purposes, and there are times when we need to step up to the plate and do something that’s challenging.

That’s exactly what Nehemiah did.  He depended on God, but he still acted as though things depended on him.  I’ve found in my own life that in moments when I need to act, one of the best prayers I can pray is, “God, please give me boldness.  Help me to remember that it’s not up to me but that I need to act.”  And in those moments, God steps in and does what only He can do.

Father, thank You for the gift of prayer and for the ability to seek You and to commune with You.  Thank You for the ways that You lead us.  Give us courage to listen to Your direction and to follow through with Your leading.  Give us boldness when we need to have boldness, and let us remember that You’re going to enable us to do exactly as You desire.

About Seth

Seth is a pastor, author, and speaker who lives in Batesville, Indiana. He is married to Kari, and they have two daughters, Madelyn and Noelle.