Nehemiah Prayed To God Before Answering The King's Question

By David J. Stewart | August 2015

Nehemiah 2:4-5, “Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.

       I was listening to Alexander Scourby (1913-1985) today read the trustworthy King James Bible. I have the MP3 version in my vehicle (3 disks). The MP3 audio set also came with an additional DVD of the entire Bible, but that only plays in my computer. GOOD STUFF! I enjoy listening to the Scriptures being read, because it frees up my eyes and concentration to simply listen to what is being said. I have learned so much about the Word of God by just listening to it read by Brother Scourby.

As I was driving today I heard Nehemiah 2:1-9. Verse 4 in particular jumped out at me. Now Nehemiah worked as a servant in the house of the Medo-Persian king, Artaxerxes. The city of Jerusalem had been demolished by the armies of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar (whom I sincerely believe afterward because a Christian).

So Jerusalem has been laid waste, and the gates have been burned to the ground. The young Jewish Christian Nehemiah is depressed, to say the least, and king Artaxerxes sees his fallen facial countenance. In Greek that means that his jaw was dragging on the floor, because he was so sad. Nehemiah looked like he had lost his best friend. The king wants his servants to be happy, so Artaxerxes asks Nehemiah what he requests, to remedy the situation. Immediately, Nehemiah PRAYS TO THE GOD OF HEAVEN. I love that! What a wonderful lesson to be learned from this simple passage of Scripture. It's such a small phrase that you could very easily miss it, and never glean the spiritual blessings from it's bountiful truth.

Here's the complete story from the Holy Bible. ...

Nehemiah 2:1-9, “And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.”

We read in Nehemiah 2:4 that Nehemiah PRAYED TO THE GOD OF HEAVEN. The remarkable thing is “WHEN” he prayed. King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah what he requested, so that he would be happy again. Immediately, Nehemiah prays in his heart TO THE GOD OF HEAVEN!!! Then, and only then, after He has officially involved God in the matter, does Nehemiah present his request to King Artaxerxes. This is so powerful. What a precious truth! Notice in verse 9 that God granted Nehemiah's request, by softening the heart of King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah 2:9, And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.” Oh, how we need to pray in our churches continually. You may not see the immediate results of your own prayers, if ever, because prayer is a matter of living by faith and not sight. 2nd Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Here is the outline:

  1. King Artaxerxes asks Nehemiah what is making him so depressed

  2. Nehemiah prays to the God of Heaven.

  3. God spoke to king Artaxerxes in response to Nehemiah's prayer.

If we could see the fruits of our prayers all the time, then where would “faith” come into the equation. Faith is more than just asking God for something, it is also the consistent faith to keep asking when it seems that God is not answering (Luke 18:1-8). This is how God usually works—mysteriously, behind the scenes, out of sight, undetected. God's marvelous hand at work is seen in decades, not months or even years. Now I've heard preachers say that faith itself is asking, and asking is a form of faith faith; however, the Bible plainly teaches that importunity in prayer is required for answers for OTHERS (Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-8).

This passage in Nehemiah is powerful, because it shows that PRAYER MAKES A DIFFERENCE!!! Nehemiah knew that, which is why he prayed to God before answering the king. May we all learn from Nehemiah 2:4-5 to pray to God before everything we do, lest we forfeit answers to prayer like king Asa...

2nd Chronicles 16:12-13, “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.”

King Asa could have lived longer, but he put his faith in the physicians instead of the Lord.

This doesn't mean we should substitute prayer for going to the doctor, God forbid. That's what the religious cult of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's) do, refusing medical treatment on the grounds of faith, and their loved ones often die. JW's aren't even saved, because they deny Christ's bodily resurrection and trust in self-righteous works, water baptism and a false Christ to get to Heaven. JW's are of the Devil, sad to say, but truthful.

There are never any guarantees that the prayer of faith WILL heal the sick, but we'll never know if we don't obey God by at least trying, through prayer. I wish I could say that doctors are a gift from God, but most today are part of an elaborate racket involving the greedy pharmaceutical industry, which pushes needless and dangerous drugs like candy on the American public. Doctors today are nothing more, in many cases, than legalized drug-dealers. It's a massive scam! Although there are legitimate medical treatments, of course, the great majority of drugs, tests and procedures are primarily intended to make billions of dollars each year for the medical industry. What's best for the patient is a secondary consideration. This is why when you go to a doctor, you end up being sent through a circle of specialists, who all work together and make big bucks off your inconvenience. They abuse the insurance and milk it for everything they can. Effective, we are Guinea Pigs in America! But this is beside our topic in this article.

The lesson to be learned here as a born-again Christian is to ALWAYS PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING!!! If we fail to pray, then we may end up prematurely dead like king Asa. If Asa just would have prayed, God would have healed him and spared his life. You may pray for a loved one, or yourself, and still die. It all depends on God's will. Albeit, if we don't pray, then we cannot expect divine intervention. What I do is pray, and then go to the doctor. I prayed numerous times before both of my neck surgeries. This is what Nehemiah did. He prayed, and then he answered the king's question.

The big lesson to learn here is to bathe everything in prayer. Philippians 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Do you know why you can claim the peace that passeth all understanding when you pray? It is simply because you have made your request(s) known to God, and now the ball is in His court, so-to-speak. Once you pray, God cannot say you didn't come to Him for help; but if you don't pray, then He can! I don't mind if God decides not to answer my prayer, but I don't want Him to say that it was my fault for not praying. Pray, pray, pray! You're never wasting your time when you pray. Prayer works, one way or another, prayer works!!! END

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