“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.