The Prayer-Full Life - Nehemiah 1 - Episode 54

The Prayer-Full Life - Nehemiah 1 - Episode 54
Season 4 Sweet Selah Moments Podcas...

 
 
00:00 / 00:30:45
 
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Sometimes you have time for long prayers. Sometimes you pray long for big answers. Sometimes you are in a panic and simply say, "Help me, Jesus!" A prayer-full life, like Nehemiah had, is the goal. And wow. That guy surely could pray! Join Nicole and Sharon as they start our study of the book of Nehemiah and be amazed at how relevant his story is ... to ours today.

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Read the transcript for The Prayer-Full Life-Nehemiah 1

Intro (00:02):

Are you ready to embrace a little stillness, some rest for your soul today. Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast, where we stop and study God’s words and encourage one another to know Him better and love Him more. This Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.

Nicole (00:29):

Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. Today, we start a brand new series. We’re looking at the book of Nehemiah in the Bible and studying how to apply what we learn to life in the 21st century. Sharon, what made you choose Nehemiah and how do you think it’s relevant to us today?

Sharon (00:46):

I have long been a fan of Nehemiah, Nicole. I’m so excited about this. He was an ordinary guy with a challenging job. He was cup bearer to the king of Persia. This meant he sipped from the king’s cup first lest it be full of poison. It sounds like rather dangerous job. It was because if it was full of poison, then he would die. Instead of the king. It might’ve been a job of importance because of the trust involved, but still kind of boring, right? I mean, that’s your job and what if you didn’t like what the king was drinking? You know? Anyway. This guy, an exile from the promised land knew how to pray and plan, Nicole. This is why I love the guy. And when we walk closely with God in prayer and when we seek Him in our plans, both those things, ordinary becomes extraordinary, and it sure did in his life. I cannot wait to unpack this book of the Bible. Something else that’s interesting about this book? It is the last piece of Jewish history in the Bible chronologically before Jesus comes.

Nicole (01:48):

Oh, cool.

Sharon (01:49):

I had not realized that. (Nicole: Yeah.) I think that’s really neat. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s the last bit of history we get and then there’s the 400 years of silence and then Jesus. So, all right, Nicole, tell us a little bit about the book itself — when it was written, what was happening during that time? That sort of things. I love it when you research.

Nicole (02:05):

Yeah. It’s so fun to research. So I found out that the events in the book of Nehemiah take place from around 444 BC to 430 BC, right after that 70 year exile in Babylon for the Jewish people. And this book tells of the third and final return to Jerusalem, all those exiles are making their way back home.

Sharon (02:27):

Finally going and going home. Yes!

Nicole (02:30):

And what I found to be really interesting is that Nehemiah remained in Babylon doing his super exciting job of cup bearing until this last return. I found this article by Chuck Swindoll when I was researching that described Nehemiah’s character, and his thoughts were that he must have been a man of great character to hold such a prestigious position in the palace. And I’m going to quote this, that “Nehemiah’s expertise in the king’s court equipped him adequately for the political and physical reconstruction necessary for the remnant to survive.” (Sharon: Huh!) The remnant of the Jews. Isn’t that cool? So his job in this very anti-Jewish culture, in a not very God-honoring place, was the place God had for him for a time to prepare him for the next great task He had for him. How cool is that?

Sharon (03:19):

That is. That is. I hadn’t thought of the politics of it. (Nicole: Yeah.) But he was with the king at every, well, all the time, actually, if it was every time he drank. (Nicole: Right.) Good gravy.

Nicole (03:30):

That’s all day.

Sharon (03:31):

Yeah. So he had the king’s ear in a way others did not. So there would be political ramifications. People might’ve wanted to get to know Nehemiah so Nehemiah could put in a good word for them. I mean, I don’t know how much talking Nehemiah did to the king on a regular basis (Nicole: Right, right.) But, but he did have a unique position.

Nicole (03:50):

He was part of his inner circle (Sharon: Wowzers.) and he was there witness a lot of interactions and leadership. So he saw so much.

Sharon (03:55):

Yes! Like if the king was meeting with emissaries from other countries and drinking (Nicole: Right.) there’s Nehemiah, so he’s trusted with political secrets. Wow.

Nicole (04:06):

Things we never thought about!

Sharon (04:07):

No, I just thought this kind of dull, just drinking from a cup…

Nicole (04:10):

Just sipping in the background.

Sharon (04:12):

Wow, what a fun job.

Nicole (04:15):

Didn’t die today!

Sharon (04:15):

I wonder if he ever got to drink on his own or maybe he didn’t ever want to, because he, who knows. But anyways, thank you.

Nicole (04:21):

Yeah, it was a fun background.

Sharon (04:21):

Yeah, that was really cool. Yeah. So the politics that he watched helped him, because he’s going to face politics (Nicole: Yes.) when he goes back to Jerusalem.

Nicole (04:29):

We’re going to find out how this prepared him for his big job.

Sharon (04:32):

Who knew?

Nicole (04:32):

I know!

Sharon (04:33):

God knew.

Nicole (04:33):

He did.

Sharon (04:35):

Oh wow. All right, okay. Well, we’re going to take a look at two kinds of prayer today because one of the theme songs in Nehemiah’s life is prayer, and we’re going to see it over and over again. And you and I love prayer. So no surprise, I choose a book of the Bible that talks about prayer. (Nicole: Perfect!) But that’s because we love being with God, and prayer makes us be with God. So, okay. All right. So, we’re going to read Nehemiah chapter one and the very beginning of chapter two, and we’ll go back and forth alternating verses. So why don’t you begin?

Nicole (05:04):

All right. I’ll start with Nehemiah chapter one, verse one. “These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.”

Sharon (05:12):

Good enough, Nicole.

Nicole (05:16):

“In late autumn and the month of Kislev and the 20th year of King Artaxerxes’ rein, I was at the fortress of Susa.”

Sharon (05:24):

“Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.”

Nicole (05:36):

“They said to me, things are not going well for those who return to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

Sharon (05:48):

“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I’m mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.”

Nicole (05:58):

“Then I said, ‘oh Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands.”

Sharon (06:08):

“Listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!”

Nicole (06:20):

“We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.”

Sharon (06:27):

“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations.

Nicole (06:34):

But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’”

Sharon (06:44):

“The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants.”

Nicole (06:50):

“O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.

Sharon (07:05):

All right. Chapter two, first little bit. “Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence.”

Nicole (07:21):

“So the king asked me, ‘Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.’ Then I was terrified.”‘

Sharon (07:27):

“But I replied, ‘Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

Nicole (07:42):

“Then the king asked, ‘Well, how can I help you?’ With a prayer to the God of heaven…”

Sharon (07:48):

“I replied…” I’m stopping there. (Nicole: Ah! Dot dot dot.) Cliffhanger! Wait till next week. It’s because it incorporates both kinds of prayer I want to talk about… (Nicole: Oh yeah!) Yeah, because we’ve got this long prayer we’re going to talk about where he’s praying for months, literally months, and then this spontaneous little, well, how can I help you? You know, says the king, and he’s… Talk about a quick prayer. “Okay, Lord help me, because he just asked me a question.” So that’s why I chose them both, the spontaneous prayer, and the… But we’re going to go back to the long prayer first. So I’ll read verse one again. “These are the memoirs of Nehemiah, son of Hacaliah. In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa.” So first of all, Nicole, how could I not like the man. He’s a writer and he keeps a record of his days. He journals! How else would he know what month it was, what year of the reign, where he was… (Nicole: A lot of details.) This guy is a journaler. I’m a journaler. I love this. Who knew you could journal on papyrus or whatever they were using in those days. (Nicole: Right.) Second of all, verse one says this happens in late autumn, that he finds out that the walls are destroyed, that he’s in despair about just the state of Jerusalem. And if we look at how long it takes God to answer Nehemiah’s prayers for the broken down walls, our answer, according to chapter two, verse one, is early spring. So how do you manage to pray and wait, when you want an answer immediately? Nehemiah had to wait all through winter for his answer. (Nicole: Wow.) How about you?

Nicole (09:30):

Waiting on God is so hard. (Sharon: It is.) When I’m bringing God a request, it’s usually a big one that I think should, you know, should have an immediate response. (Sharon: Exactly.) I am not such a faithful daily writer like you, Sharon, but I do keep a prayer journal. And for me, this is huge. When I’m not so patiently waiting, I can look back in my journal and see how God answered so many prayers before. And that gives me the hope that he will do it again in His time.

Sharon (09:56):

In His time, exactly.

Nicole (09:58):

I can’t tell you the times, and I’m sure you can say this too, that we’ve looked back and I’ve been so thankful that God didn’t give me the thing I wanted at that time. When He had, you know, when He gave it to me, it was the right timing and it was much better.

Sharon (10:13):

Yes. Exactly so, exactly so. Well, I waited decades for the answer to prayer that Dad Gamble would receive Christ. (Nicole: Oh yes.) Decades. So, and I kept praying. He was still alive, so I kept praying and it was really hard, and why it took so long I don’t know, but God doesn’t batter down a heart. God pursues. He says, He draws us with loving kindness, and Dad Gamble needed a lot of drawing before he accepted Christ. And who knows why Nehemiah had to wait from fall to spring for the right moment to approach the king about this heartache of his. (Nicole: Yeah.) But I love that he prayed that whole time, that he kept coming to God and saying, I’m still grieved about this. And he kept pouring out his heart to the Lord about it.

Nicole (11:02):

It’s true. Well, He doesn’t just leave us waiting impatiently, as much as we feel that way. God is doing a work in our hearts too, I think, as we pray in ways, as He’s also working out the situation we’re praying about. So there’s definite movement and work happening. We just may not always see it. Right?

Sharon (11:17):

Exactly so.

Nicole (11:18):

So, well, let’s look at a few of the next, let’s look at these next few verses and remind ourselves why Nehemiah is praying. (Sharon: All right, then.) So verse two, “Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem. They said to me, ‘Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.’ When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” What a tender-hearted man Nehemiah was.

Sharon (11:59):

I know. He was safe and cushy in Babylon.

Nicole (12:04):

This just ripped his heart out to hear that. So he got, I think it just shows how he genuinely cared for his people and longed for them to be right with God again, you know. He could have just prayed and thought he was, you know, like you said, safe and cushy and doing okay and you know, Babylon, so no need to fast and pray for so long, but we can see how humble he is. He’s, by his willingness to plead to God for days while fasting, you know, for restoration and not trying to put himself above his fellow man, but you know, making sure he was right with God as well.

Sharon (12:32):

Yeah, yeah. And fasting too. I mean, that always impresses me because I don’t like fasting. It’s hard. (Nicole: It is hard. Yeah.) But the times that have been easiest for me to fast were the times I was most deeply grieved. And he was deeply shaken by this. You know, finally the 70 years of exile are over. We’re going home, but home is destroyed (Nicole: It’s a mess.) and it’s still destroyed. I mean, this is the third group of exiles now. Right? Or maybe Nehemiah came with the third group, but anyways, there’ve been others that have gone. Yeah. It’s still a mess. Why is it still a mess? What’s happening there that it hasn’t gotten fixed yet? So I think that was all going through his head. (Nicole: Right.) And he just stayed persistent. So, but now we’re going to move on to the prayer itself. Nicole, it’s stunning to me that Nehemiah’s immediate response when he’s sad is to pray. Immediate. (Nicole: He didn’t complain.) That’s what we need to do. (Nicole: I know!) We need to pray. If we want a prayer-full life, which is the title of this episode, we need to go to God immediately with our stressors. For example, life would go way better in the Gamble household if I prayed before I spoke to Ray in irritation about something, right? (Nicole: oh yes.)Or when I’m on the phone with a technical support person who is not helping me, my patience would last so much longer if I prayed for them. (Nicole: Oh yeah!) You know, or even before I got on the phone, because I know those calls are going to be hard. You know, Jesus, give me patience, help me to shine Your light. If I would do that first, prayer, I need a prayer-full life. I really do. So short story. I had a hacker in early August get into my emails and write hundreds of people, because I have hundreds of people on my email list that I love, and they acted like they were me and they asked, they asked these people for money, but they did it so subtly that it’s like, hey, how are you? Do you have time to do me a favor? That’s all they asked. Yeah. Love, Sharon. So then a lot of my friends wrote them back and said, yeah, what do you need? (Nicole: Oh my goodness.) Right? Because it sounded like me. (Nicole: Right!) So then I say — but it’s not me — I say I’m stuck where I can’t access my bank account right now and my precious niece is having a birthday. If you could get a $500 Apple card, at which case, thankfully I have smart friends. (Nicole: Right.) I don’t think anybody sent the guy the 500 dollar Apple cards. (Nicole: You really love your niece!) I know, anybody that knows me…

Nicole (15:02):

You do your little gifts to all your babies.

Sharon (15:03):

Knows that I don’t give 500 dollars! Not even to my husband or me. We don’t have $500 for birthday presents. So basically he blew it there. (Nicole: Yeah.) But I felt so violated by it.

Nicole (15:15):

Because he knew that you love, he knows you love your grandkids, you know? I don’t know.

Sharon (15:18):

Yeah. Yeah. He knows that I love my people. (Nicole: Yes!) And so it just, it just drove me crazy. It really did. So, and it took hours because hundreds of people wrote me and said, Sharon, you’ve been hacked. You don’t need help, do you? I mean, I would give you help if you need it, but I’m afraid to answer. (Nicole: Right, are you sure this is you.) Over and over and over. So I spent the whole day answering the phone, emailing replies, responding on Facebook messenger. (Nicole: Right.) It wasted a lot of my time. (Nicole: I’m sure.) Plus I had to change all my passwords and all that stuff. So. All right. So how does this turn into a prayer-full life? Because you might be wondering if I have wandered from our purpose here. But I’m moving back to it now. About, I don’t know, an hour into this debacle (Nicole: Yeah.) I started thinking about the hacker, and how he was an enemy of mine and how you need to pray for your enemies. (Nicole: Oh yeah.) So I started praying for him or her because I have no idea. And I thought, you know what? I bet no one’s ever prayed for you. I bet that’s your problem.

Nicole (16:19):

Right? I was so mad at you for hacking.

Sharon (16:21):

You’re such a terrible person. You must not have been prayed for. So I prayed for them all day long.

Nicole (16:28):

Wow. With every email you had to respond to.

Sharon (16:31):

I did. I did. Yeah. (Nicole: Isn’t that interesting.) And it really changed something that made me feel violated and angry and, and rather vengeful towards the hacker to thinking, okay Lord, this is how we are turning a bad situation for good. This person is getting prayed for. (Nicole: Oh, how neat.) It was so fun, Nicole.

Nicole (16:51):

Yeah, and it blessed you better than going through the rest of your day grumpy with it, you know?

Sharon (16:54):

Oh, it did, it blessed me so much. (Nicole: Yeah!) I prayed they would stop, of course, I’m not crazy, but I also prayed that they come to know Christ and that they’d find a better way to make a living.

Nicole (17:03):

Yeah, exactly. Lord, inspire them.

Sharon (17:04):

it really was exciting. It redeemed it, totally redeemed it for me. Long story. But an example of, you know, when I actually, I actually did the right thing, after I did the wrong thing for about an hour, and did a prayer-full life. So Nehemiah, anyways, went straight to prayer. I want to read the prayer again because it’s so good. All the pieces, parts of it, how he starts with praise and how he unpacks it, how he’s humble. So let’s listen again and then let’s just choose a favorite verse each. Okay? All right. So here’s his prayer. “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses. Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’ The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” Wow. So this is like the last prayer. I just realized that before he goes, “grant my request today.” (Nicole: Oh right.) Oh, man.

Nicole (18:48):

I missed that before. That’s exciting.

Sharon (18:50):

I did, too! Okay, so what’s your favorite first from the prayer and why? Tell me.

Nicole (18:54):

I like verse nine. It says, “but if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you were exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.” I love how, because the first eight says, “you remember God, you told your servant Moses,” I love how Nehemiah reminds God of his promise, because God can’t lie. (Sharon: No.) He is faithful. And He always keeps His word, and how beautiful the promise there of complete forgiveness and restoration. If they return to God and obey him. It’s comforting to me that we can memorize and stake our lives on God’s promise.

Sharon (19:31):

It is. And that’s what he did. He brought God’s words into his prayers and that’s a wonderful way to pray, with God’s words in the prayer.

Nicole (19:37):

It is! Like, I don’t know what to say. Well, I’m just going to read this because (Sharon: This will help me.) Nehemiah wrote it so well or God, yeah.

Sharon (19:43):

Exactly. It’ll work. So, well, my favorite verse is actually that last verse, verse 11, “O Lord, please hear my prayer. Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you.” Isn’t that nice, that he can say that? Lord, I delight in honoring You and lifting You high. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me. So he has prayed maybe five months, four months, five months, I don’t know, fall to spring, whatever that is, who knows. And now it’s like, okay, today’s the day. (Nicole: Wow.) I’m going to talk to the king. Grant me favor. Only you can make the king like me during when I talk to him. So could You soften his heart, could You prepare the way? And you know, I should do that more when I’m coming up on the hard conversation, I should pray first and say, Lord, prepare my heart. Then I don’t say one word I shouldn’t say. Prepare the hearer’s heart that they can hear my intent to love them, if I have to say something hard, you know? (Nicole: Yeah.) I think it’s huge. And living a prayer-full life means you bring things like that. (Nicole: Everything.) Every single thing. So, all right then.

Nicole (20:57):

Well, let me finish the verses. As you said earlier, Sharon, he prayed this prayer, probably multiple versions of it, multiple times for several months, and he didn’t give up and then the opportunity came. So we’re going to read about it.

Sharon (21:10):

Alrighty, here we go again.

Nicole (21:12):

I love the beginning of this. “Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence. So the king asked me, ‘Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.’ Then I was terrified, but I replied, ‘Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.’ The king asked, ‘Well, how can I help you?’ With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied…” And there’s that cliffhanger again.

Sharon (21:52):

I know it, come back next week!

Nicole (21:52):

We’ll get there! So Sharon, this was a really scary situation for Nehemiah on two accounts. First, it was forbidden to appear sad or upset in the presence of a Persian monarch.

Sharon (22:06):

Good grief. You had to always be smiling.

Nicole (22:09):

Always be happy. They assume that their mere kingly glory would make everyone around them happy, and you could dare not appear in front of them looking sad (Sharon: Wow.) or not excited to be in their presence. So for Nehemiah to appear sad in front of him, that was kind of strike one. (Sharon: Yeah.) And then he was about to ask to leave his job. That was another big no-no in court life back then. But Nehemiah trusted that God was bigger than this king and prayed really quick and plunged forward. And to have the king respond the way he did can only be from God, softening his heart. (Sharon: Absolutely.) Because that’s not what they did back then. You didn’t step out of line. You didn’t, you know, appear sad. You didn’t ask to leave and then, oh, sure. What can I do to help you? Totally God, he could have died that day. (Sharon: He could have died.) They could have imprisoned him or beheaded him in an instant for being sad alone.

Sharon (22:57):

Unbelievable. And what does king say, well, how can I help you? (Nicole: Yes.) It’s not even well, keep it to yourself.

Nicole (23:03):

Right, well, go in the corner till you cheer up a little. No, he was moved by God.

Sharon (23:06):

Yeah. How can I help you? (Nicole: to compassion.) Well, of course the king knows that Nehemiah has never been sad, so it’s gotta be a big deal to him. I suppose that’s true, (Nicole: oh, that’s true.) but still, “how can I help you?” (Nicole: He’s the king.) I’d like to leave my job. “How can I help you?” What? I mean, this is so stunning. It really is.

Nicole (23:25):

It’s shocking that he survived this.

Sharon (23:27):

And I get the spontaneous prayer. I mean, even though he’s pray, pray, pray, pray, prayed all along. He’s terrified.

Nicole (23:33):

It’s actually happening.

Sharon (23:35):

Jesus help me.

Nicole (23:36):

Right? Cause again at one wrong move and he could be dead or in prison. So that quick prayer, that spontaneous prayer…

Sharon (23:42):

…is really, really helpful. And I’ve done those before. I’m sure you have, too. Okay. Lord, help me right now please. Yup. Yup. And sometimes it’s just help me, help me. (Nicole: Oh yes.) Sometimes it’s just the word Jesus. If I’m really scared, you know, it really is. I can remember, you know, some hard times when I was taking care of Dad and I was just so weary, weary, weary, where all I could say is Jesus. But even saying His name somehow pushed the darkness away, you know? (Nicole: It does.) Because Satan would come in and just depress me so much.

Nicole (24:12):

And it was for those that are His, there’s power in His name.

Sharon (24:15):

There’s power!

Nicole (24:15):

There is, just saying His name. (Sharon: In the name of Jesus!) Absolutely.

Sharon (24:17):

Yeah. And it was not said in vain, you know, (Nicole: No!) it was said as a spontaneous prayer. It’s all I could get out.

Nicole (24:26):

I know, I feel you there. I do quick spontaneous prayers before disciplining my children, many times a day. (Sharon: Yes, yes.) Lord, give me strength. Pardon my mouth. I just want to yell.

Sharon (24:37):

Yes, yes. Close my lips right now, please close them.

Nicole (24:40):

Yes, and He hears those.

Sharon (24:42):

And it’s so neat to have both in this, that Nehemiah has a prayer-full life in every direction, so. Okay. So I’m going to summarize what we have learned, or what I’ve learned anyways, from chapter one. Number one, my first response in trouble ought to be prayer. My first response, not run and tell my best friend. (Nicole: Right?) How about God first. Number two. I should always include a time of worship in the prayer. I love how he did that. He started with praise and I thought that was the coolest thing. (Nicole: Oh yeah.) So that was really neat. And I loved it. Especially when troubled, you should start with praise because then you’re remembering how big God is. “Dear God, who actually is in charge of all the angel armies of heaven…” (Nicole: Right.) That helps (Nicole: “You’ve got this.”) when you’re feeling like things are going bad.

Nicole (25:26):

It’s true, though, because you remind yourself of who you’re asking for help from.

Sharon (25:30):

Right, right. Plus it honors him. It’s not going right into “me me, me,” it starts with Him, and I think that’s good. So. Number three, I should not be shy about confessing sin. You know, he, he included himself, you know, none of us have followed Your rules or regulations perfectly, including me and my family. (Nicole: Right.) Which makes me wonder, was he married? I don’t think he was, but you know, he still had a family and a mom and a dad, brothers and sisters cousins, you know? So anyways. So I shouldn’t be shy about that. That should be part of my prayer life too. Father, you saw my heart when Ray left the closet door open again and how irritated I was. And it’s such a stupid thing, Lord, I can just shut the closet door. It’s nothing, you know. But confessing it right away, instead of letting it build. Number four, it’s okay to pray impressively improbable prayers. I mean, doesn’t Nehemiah not pray an impossible, improbable prayer? (Nicole: Yeah.) Could I just leave my employ? And wait till you get to next week, we won’t, we won’t spoil it yet.

Nicole (26:31):

But wait, there’s more! And it’s really good.

Sharon (26:33):

But goodness, there’s more! So we’ll see how God answered big when Nehemiah asked him. So that’s number four. Number five. Nehemiah was neither a priest nor a king. He drank liquids from a cup. Yet God used him. He can use any of us if we’re willing to turn to Him. We don’t have to be some hoity toity, born-into-wealth kind of person. (Nicole: Right.) You know, we can have a menial little job and it’s fine. (Nicole: He uses us.) And number six, set times for prayer is good. Are good? Set times are? Yes. And so are spontaneous ones. Both kinds of prayer.

Nicole (27:09):

Both have their place, both are so important.

Sharon (27:11):

So this week let’s work on living a life full of prayer. If we really want to stay close to God, we will remember He is always there with us and we can talk to Him as the close companion He is. (Nicole: I love that.) Any last thoughts, Nicole?

Nicole (27:25):

I want to remember the courage that Nehemiah had to follow and obey God in a place that was right then, you know, that’s where he was. God had placed him there and, despite it being scary and very oppressive to his faith, he was faithful to God, and he was ready when God was ready to use him. (Sharon: Yeah.) So, you know, it’s kind of a bloom where you’re planted kind of thing. Like God put him there and…

Sharon (27:47):

Yeah. And when you think of all the years he drank liquids from a cup. (Nicole: Yes.) Right?

Nicole (27:51):

Because every day, day after day. Sip? No poison, oops, didn’t die. I mean, it was a little scary maybe. (Sharon: I know!) And he just did it, every day.

Sharon (27:58):

Yeah. And it probably, there were dull years. (Nicole: Oh yeah.) And yet God used him. It’s kind of like Corrie Ten Boom who lived kind of a quiet life until her mid fifties (Nicole: Yeah!), and then rescued Jews from execution and then ended up in a concentration camp and then ended up with a worldwide ministry in her, oh, eighties. Right. (Nicole: Right.) You never know.

Nicole (28:17):

God’s timing, I’m telling you. Totally different than ours.

Sharon (28:21):

So, well, let’s close in prayer. See, this is a prayer-full episode after all. “Oh, Father. Thank You. Thank You for stories in the Bible, Lord, that help us connect to real people. Thank You for Nehemiah, this man that lived long ago and whose heart broke for the brokenness of Jerusalem and the people that were there that couldn’t seem to fix it. Father, we break in so many ways. We struggle with big and small issues in our lives. Some of our walls are broken down. And so we come to You right now and we ask that You would help us right where we are, improbably impossibly help us, and the ways that you know best. And give us the patience and the trust to wait on You for Your sure rescue. In Jesus name, amen.

Nicole (29:20):

Amen. Okay. I’m working on praying more this week, Sharon. And I can’t wait until next week where we get to see God’s amazing answer to Nehemiah’s prayers. Even if it took a few months, next week’s episode is called “Planning the Impossible with God,”, episode 55. I love planning and believe me with kiddos and a puppy, I need to do some planning to survive. We can’t wait to share that with you all. We are so glad you listen each week, friends. We hope you feel a part of this conversation because we surely want you to be with us as we chat. If you’d like to invest in this podcast with just a few dollars a month, whatever you can spare, we’d love to have you join the Podcast Partner Squad. Sharon and I send out monthly e-news to all our partners, and we are so grateful for the help to fund the cost of creating the podcast each week. You can find us at sweetselah.org/podcast, and you can donate at sweetselah.org/donations. We always are grateful for reviews and comments. May God bless you with a prayer-full week.

Outro (30:23):

We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. This Sweet Selah Moments podcast is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast can be found sweetselah.org. Thank you for joining us.

 

You can download and print the transcript here.

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