Bold Prayers

Nancy Hatcher, Volunteer Writer, South Barrington | January 19, 2024

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.  
Nehemiah 1:4

But I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” The king said to me, “What is it you want?”Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” 
Nehemiah 2:3-5

Today, I stare so hard at these two words: adversary and adversity. These words are similar in length and shape. We often blame one for the other. Indeed, if Adam and Eve hadn’t succumbed to the adversaryadversity (or sin) wouldn’t be present today. 

In today’s passage, Nehemiah, a Jew and a high servant of King Artaxerxes, is heavy with grief when he hears of the crumbling temple walls and the sad hearts of his people. Immediately, Nehemiah began praying and fasting.

When he brings the king his cup of wine, the king asks why his spirit seems upset. Nehemiah explains his sadness over the plight of his people.

The next move Nehemiah makes is oh so important.

He sends an arrow prayer straight up to God and then shockingly asks the king something that many would consider brazen and disrespectful for a person of Nehemiah’s stature. He implores the king to return him to Jerusalem to help rebuild the wall.

And the Babylonian king says, “Yes.” Nehemiah’s adversary changed the course of history, and this adversity became a win for God and the people of Jerusalem.

Yesterday, my phone pinged. I read the text, swallowed, and immediately breathed in slowly and exhaled as I prayed. 

Another challenging moment in my life. This time though, prayer was my first inclination because I’ve been practicing ‘in-the-moment prayers’ for about a year. I want to be a woman of prayer, God’s prayer warrior. Prayer changes me. Prayer changes situations. I want to be more like Nehemiah—bold, not holding back when God expects me to come before his throne with very big asks. Nehemiah and countless other Biblical characters, including Jesus, are examples of this kind of praying.

God always, always responds to prayer. And friends, He will do the same for you. 

Next Steps

For me, prayer is not natural. I’ve had to practice. I write out my prayers because it helps my wandering mind. I’ve committed daily to praying, reading my Bible, and listening to God. Maybe in this new season, you might join me.