Let us journey with the risen Lord, reconnecting with His Spirit and His word and growing in faith.
Growing with prayer
Let us read Nehemiah 1.
In order to grow, every newborn needs to be fed milk and, later, other foods. The mother feeds him and watches him grow. It is also important to teach him to drink spiritual milk and then eat spiritual food. The child has to be taught how to feed himself with the Bible: what should be his conduct in relationship with God: respect, obedience, faith, love for God… The child has to learn to speak to God in prayer. Just as parents like to hear their children speak, God likes to hear us speak to him even if we sometimes have difficulties expressing ourselves.
There are different kinds of prayers. We would benefit from including them in our prayer times.
• Worship: “I love you” (This is what Peter answers the Lord in John 21.15-17).
• Confession: “Have mercy on me!” (This is the publican’s prayer in Luke 18:13).
• Thanks: “Thank you!” (This is what the healed leper said in Luke 17.16).
• Petition/intercession: “Please!” (See Bartimaeus’ words in Mark 10.47-48).
The prayer of Nehemiah in chapter 1 of the book of Nehemiah contains these four elements: worship verse 5; confession verses 6 and 7; thanks verse 10 and petition verses 8, 9 and 11.
God takes pleasure in our willingness to claim His promises. He wants us to believe in His promises and mention them in prayer. By taking what God has promised us, we can be strengthened in our determination to trust these promises, especially when everything seems lost.
For what does the book of Nehemiah, which begins with bad news but ends with good news (the city walls are completely rebuilt) exist? To remind us that on hearing some bad news, the heart of a man who loved God and who was concerned about the state and conditions in which His people lived was moved, stirred deeply within him.
If the Gospel is good news, we must also remember that it is against the dark background of bad news that it is grafted. We, who are concerned by the good news of the Gospel, were not in the same situation as the Jews in Nehemiah’s time. They were at the height of an earthly misfortune or dishonor. Our circumstance was much more serious. Not only were we in misfortune, but we were, as Scripture says, dead in our sins, subject to the power of the Evil One, without hope and without God in the world.
If the Gospel is good news for us, it is not because of us. It is because Someone in heaven, Jesus, the Son of God, did not agree to our situation, but had compassion on us. “Who will I send, who will walk for us?” Who will take to heart the miserable situation in which the people of God find themselves in the world? The Son replied: "Here I am, to do your will, O God” Hebrews 10,7a.
The book of Nehemiah is in the Bible to tell us how God worked to transform a situation that was desperate at first into something that was later a source of joy for all of God’s people. But beyond that, it also tells us about the wonderful story of Jesus, who came from heaven to save us.
How do we take the bad news we hear? Let us be moved by the misfortune that affects others. Let us take it as our own, as if it happened to us and pray!
Lord God, may your Holy Spirit drive our FAITH, increase our LOVE and make HOPE grow in us. Help us to journey with you in prayer. Amen.