The building of Jerusalem had been started by Ezra the priest with the restoration of the temple. Its walls remained in ruins and news of this was brought to Nehemiah who was serving as cup-bearer to king Artaxerxes.
Nehemiah was first and foremost a man of prayer; He placed this matter before God and resolved on action. He desired to see Jerusalem re built and his people restored to their homeland. He prayed for an opportunity to ask the king for permission and resources to build the walls of the ruined city. He was given the opportunity when the king saw his obvious sadness and concern. The king agreed to the request Nehemiah made and appointed him as governor for the Jewish settlers.
Being a person of prayer does not preclude us being practical as well. Nehemiah was both prayerful and practical. He worked out how long the work would take and what labour and materials would be required. After receiving permission to go to Jerusalem, he surveyed the damage and formulated the scheme by which the residents of the city would each work to repair the section of the wall nearest their home.
The rebuilding of Jerusalem was not without its enemies and dangers. Nehemiah met this opposition with prayer and common sense, organizing armed men to protecting the work. He was single minded in all he did not letting his opponents distract him from his work. He refused to leave his post when asked for a meeting with the work’s opponents.
He was also a reformer in that he corrected the sinful practices of inter marriage and extortion that was rife among the returned exiles. He stopped the desecration of the Sabbath by foreign traders. He showed no fear or favour in dealing with the wrongs he found among the people at that time, no matter whether the wrongdoer was rich or poor, laymen or priest.
Above all Nehemiah did all this work solely for the glory of God and for the good of the people. He denied himself the perks of the governor’s job so that the people were not excessively burdened by taxes.
His great desire was that God would remember him for the good he did.
We may not be as practically minded as Nehemiah. We may not always know the best way of going about things and bring them to completion. We can however all be like Nehemiah in his prayerfulness and purposefulness. We can be single minded and thorough in our service for the Lord. We can always be willing to help and seek the help of others to achieve things, great and small that God may be glorified.
Yet we must realize in all our work, that it is primarily God’s work: We must seek Him to work in us and with us diligently seeking His glory in all we do.
A.W. Pink and the Reverend Kenneth McRae both lived on the small Scottish island of Stornoway. Both were devout Christian men, an attempt at a meeting was made but because each man would not vary his schedule they never met. It was not until McRae met Pink’s wife Vera after his death that he realized their mutual mistake and the chance of Christian fellowship lost. The lesson being too how many opportunities we lose by being to rigid and unbending.