Nehemiah 1:4a When I heard these things I sat down
In the days before phones and email, it took a long time for the news about what was happening back in Jerusalem to reach Nehemiah. When it came it is no surprise that he needed to sit down – it shook him deeply.
Before exploring how he responded to the news he had heard, I would like to encourage us to highlight the value of taking time to sit, kneel or walk about to pray and ponder the things we hear before springing into precipitate action.
What we glean from spending time mulling things over with the Lord in such ways will often direct our future action in unexpected directions. It may also prevent us from setting off eagerly in our strength only to have to reverse our course altogether later on.
Every day, we hear many things that would benefit from prayer – whether a specific country, church or a profession, or family or individual. The important thing is to take these matters beyond the cerebral level and turn them into prayer. Of course we can’t possibly pray and process everything we hear in this way, but we most assuredly can translate at least a fair proportion of these items of concern and snippets of information into constructive and creative prayer.
Practice sitting with Him today and sharing your concerns with the Lord, and, in turn, receiving His insights into them. Enter into dialogue with Him about that person, place or group. It may profoundly alter your attitude towards them!
1:4b When I heard these things I sat down and wept
Many people merely despair when they sit down in the face of overwhelming news. But there is a type of grieving that leads takes us not into the bitterness of our own helplessness but rather into the heart of God.
God doesn’t despair over things that are wrong, but He does mourn over them. In all our distress He too is distressed. (Isaiah 63:9)
The shortest verse in Scripture is also one of the most powerful: Jesus wept. Tears are liquid prayer. The Jewish Rabbis considered them the highest form of all of prayer!
Mourning doesn’t have to take the form of literal tears, but it takes us to new depths if it does. Have you made such mourning a part of your life and allowed it to play a central part in your life and walk with the Lord? If so, may the Lord so direct it that it flows in the power of the Spirit, rather than getting caught up in the soul and weighing you down!
Lord, I ask You right now to adjust the burdens I carry so that my prayers flow straight through to the Cross, the ultimate stopping place. Show me how to pray, and any new tack or angle You would have me adopt to keep the prayers fresh and flowing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I will give you tears – To those who seek My face
Set to beautiful music.