“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” — Mark Twain
“O LORD, God of heaven…listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel” – Nehemiah 1:5-6
I read six verses into the book of Nehemiah the other day and couldn’t continue. What struck me were Nehemiah’s passion and purpose, and the fact that both produced in him a prayer that continued night and day.
I’m lucky to find something to pray about that will last me fifteen minutes, much less day and night.
For all my talk about the desire to teach Scripture, seeing people equipped to fulfill their God-given destiny, equipping people for works of service, hoping to have my writings published and a church home to invest myself in, I still don’t have the passion to pray day and night. With all those things on my agenda, I would hope that I’d have a more dedicated prayer life.
I want to, but I don’t. The paradox, naturally, is that I am writing about prayer instead of actually praying. Perhaps my writing is something I need to pray about!
I did study further to see what it was that caused such a stir in Nehemiah’s spirit. A citizen from Judah visited Nehemiah in Babylon and reported that the walls of Jerusalem were still in disrepair since their destruction by Nebuchadnezzar 130 years before. Because the walls were down, Jerusalem was defenseless against her enemies. Spiritually, however, this was a disgrace because it reflected upon the character of God. Jerusalem was the place God chose to place His name (Neh. 1:9; Deut. 12:5). To allow it to stay in such disrepair was to bring shame on the very Name of God.
Nehemiah was able to pray day and night because he understood the heart of God. This challenged me to consider what things I want and what things God wants. Do I truly want to make God’s desires my desires, or am I too busy trying to make God desire what I desire? If the latter is the case, it is no wonder I can’t find the energy and enthusiasm to pray for more that an few minutes at a time.
Too often my prayer life is little more that a list of what I want God to accomplish in my life. I want a ministry, a career, a home, a book published and a local church to invest my talents and passions. By this time, God is very aware of my wants. The question is, am I aware of what God wants?
I have this sneaking suspicion that if I were to tap into the infinite heart of God, I would find it quite easy to pray day and night. But since my focus is to pray about my own finite wants then my prayer life, like the walls of Jerusalem, lies in disrepair.
It is time to fix the broken walls of prayer.
It is time to search the eternal heart of God.
I was intrigued by your post and could not resist a reply. From one who enjoys writing to another who enjoys the same, I have to ask if you have ever tried journaling your prayers. I started about 5 years ago. I find it helps me focus. Sometimes my first line is, ‘I don’t really have anything on my mind this morning’, and 6 pages later I close the book. It is responsible for what has now become a passion for God and writing. Just thought I’d mention it.
All for now,
Oh Jim, how this sounds so familiar. =)
I’m so glad our Lord has opened our hearts to know HIS heart. I have found myself delighting in His presence more than ever in my life, and when leaving it…I am changed.
It is not the amount of time we spend in prayer, but the amount of our lives and hearts and spirit invested in our Lord that is so precious to Him.
I know He is doing something amazing for those who seek him and you Jim are one of them.
I pray today, that the Lord will reveal to you His heart…to know, and to abide by His desires. To glorify our King.
Thank you for thinking out loud. =)
Hey Jim! There was a reason Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden. Prayer is tough! It is why most spend little time in it. Was it Brother Lawrence I think that talked of walking continuously in prayer? I tried it a few times. I couldn’t multitask. It was either I prayed or I did work. Had a tough time doing both, but would have liked to. I think it must require annointing or discipline, maybe both. 🙂
@archie – “I think it must require annointing or discipline, maybe both.”
I think praying is surely an anointing that we receive. Praying for someone is not just about saying the right words, but it’s having the right feelings in your heart when you say those words. When we pray for ourselves, we know the pain, and this comes across in our prayers. But it’s not easy for us to see another’s pain, and pray accordingly. IMO it’s only anointing that lets you see and feel the pain of others.