Nehemiah 1:1-4
The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa,  Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
A Babylonian army had long ago conquered Jerusalem. The city’s inhabitants had been taken into captivity. Jerusalem, once the pride of Israel, had been reduced to a ghost town.  
A century and a half later Nehemiah learned that Jerusalem, the home of his ancestors, was in ruins. The great walls surrounding the city had been destroyed.  The temple within which his fathers had worshipped the one true God had been demolished.
Nehemiah was a faithful servant to the Persian King, Artaxerxes. His body was in Persia but his heart and mind were in Jerusalem. The total demise of Jerusalem broke Nehemiah’s heart as nothing had before. 
  1. What burdens your heart to the point that you mourn, fast, and pray? 
  2. What do you see within our culture or community that demands God’s direct involvement before change will occur? 
  3. Does the spiritual condition of our country, our cities, our church, or maybe our children cause you to fall before God in earnest prayer?


Before God uses us in significance he does something significant within us. Spend time this week asking God to begin that significant work in you. 
  • Ask God for eyes to see the spiritual reality surrounding us. 
  • Ask God to restore your personal zeal to share the gospel of Jesus with others.
  • Ask God to shift your focus from your own wants to the spiritual needs of others in your life. 


When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. Then I said,

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.
“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’
“The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”
In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.

Nehemiah mourned over Jerusalem’s condition. He was deeply troubled over the vulnerability of the people living there. His burden for the city and her inhabitants consumed his heart and mind. He mourned so deeply that he spent four months in fervent prayer accompanied by prolonged fasting. He knew restoration of the once great city would never be accomplished without God’s direct involvement.

  • What is your greatest desire? 
  • What is your biggest dream? 
  • Are these consistent with the heart and promises of God? 
  • Are they so large as to require months of prayer and fasting to fulfill
If prayer isn’t absolutely necessary our vision is too small!
Follow Nehemiah’s example and devote yourself to a God-sized endeavor. Following his example, spend time this week laying a foundation through fervent and focused prayer. 
  • Begin with praise for God grace and kindness in allowing us to approach him in prayer. 
  • Continue with confession for the sins, including your own, that led to the current condition. 
  • Thank God that for his promises and for including us in the Kingdom work he is doing. 


The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?”

With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request.
I also said to the king, “If it please the king, let me have letters addressed to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, instructing them to let me travel safely through their territories on my way to Judah. And please give me a letter addressed to Asaph, the manager of the king’s forest, instructing him to give me timber. I will need it to make beams for the gates of the Temple fortress, for the city walls, and for a house for myself.” And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me.
When I came to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, I delivered the king’s letters to them. The king, I should add, had sent along army officers and horsemen to protect me. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of my arrival, they were very displeased that someone had come to help the people of Israel.

Have you ever faced what seemed to be an unsurmountable task or challenge?

Four months of prayer and fasting had prepared Nehemiah to tackle the monumental task of coordinating the restoration of Jerusalem’s walls. He possessed a clear understanding of the challenge as well as the courage needed to face the inevitable opposition that would arise.
Nehemiah hadn’t simply set aside time each day for prayer. Fervent prayer accompanied by fasting had led Nehemiah to start the journey. Continuous, ongoing prayer would cultivate a boldness that would carry him across the finish line.
We have never been promised a life without challenge or difficulty. We have, however, been promised that the God who dwells within us is infinitely stronger than any difficulty of challenge we might encounter. Knowing this keeps us determined and resolute regardless of our circumstances. 

Spend time this week reflecting over what is required to fulfill the vision God has given you.  

  • Ask God, who has complete knowledge and understanding, to reveal what will be needed. 
  • Ask God, who owns all of creation, to meet every need you will face as you tackle the task. 
  • Ask God, who alone we strive to please, to protect you from discouragement along the way.


So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding. After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well, and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates. Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble. So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate.
The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not yet spoken to the Jewish leaders—the priests, the nobles, the officials, or anyone else in the administration. But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.

They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” they asked.
I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”
The first thing Nehemiah did upon his arrival to Jerusalem was to examine the task before him. Alone and undistracted, Nehemiah surveyed the destruction and began to formulate a strategy to fulfill the assignment God had given him. 
The second thing Nehemiah did was to inspire others to come alongside him to help fulfill the vision God had given him. A God-sized vision will rarely, if ever, be fulfilled by just one person. God gives us assignments that require the gifts, resources, and abilities of many.

God doesn’t “call the equipped” so much as he “equips those he calls.” When the task or responsibility is large, even God-sized, no individual can take credit when the job is complete. When it is God alone who will get the glory we can expect God to lead us all through any and every challenge or difficulty.  

Reflect & Respond

Spend time this week asking God to reveal who he wants to bring alongside you as you serve. 

  • Far more important than talent or ability is a steadfast faith in God. Look for people of faith.
  • Remember, every God-sized burden has a God-enabled solution. Trust in God, not people. 
  • Don’t allow the limited resources you have at this time hinder your determination to fulfill the vision. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns the hills, too.