In the beat
The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
- Nehemiah 2:4-5
The fateful moment has arrived: Nehemiah’s shot is here. He’s not throwin’ away his shot. He’s going to make his request and do it bigly.
But there’s a beat here we want you to catch.
Between the king’s invitation to ask and the actual act of asking, Nehemiah does something that peels back the action in the passage. At first glance, the scene you’re watching seems like a bold and generous interchange between the king of Persia and his courageous servant. But just off screen the Lord is present.
In that beat between asking and answering Nehemiah prays.
Last week we looked at how Nehemiah dedicated time to prayer before he even approached the king. He bathed this whole situation in prayer. He wasn’t going to embark on this journey without a significant and dedicated time to hash it out with the Lord. But Nehemiah doesn’t abandon prayer when he makes the turn to action.
The active, rough-and-tumble, dangerous phase of the Jerusalem rebuilding project was peppered with prayer. Connecting with God in prayer filled the beats between moments of action. And God, in return, filled Nehemiah with courage and wisdom and faith. Nehemiah wasn’t going to do this work without the Lord.
Don’t let prayer become a ceremonial way to open and close days, meetings, events. Don’t treat prayer as a good luck charm. Don’t pretend like is just a religious way of passing along news or information or gossip.
In prayer we’re connecting with the God of heaven. His kingdom is present everywhere around us as we follow and obey him. And he is free to interfere in our affairs whenever he pleases.
What would it look like for you to punctuate your day with prayer? Try to pray a brief “Help me, Lord” or “Guide me, Lord” in the midst of your conversations and adventures today. Do this silently so people don’t think you’re being dramatic. How does this affect your relationship with God and with the people around you?