First, Pray

First I prayed to the God of heaven.
            —Nehemiah 2:4

Nehemiah had a good job as the king’s cupbearer, but he was depressed. Jerusalem, where his ancestors were buried, was in shambles: its wall flattened, its gates burned, its citizens dejected.

He wanted to go to Jerusalem and rebuild, but that required the king’s permission. King Artaxerxes sensed Nehemiah’s distress and asked, “What is it you want?”

Note Nehemiah’s words: “First I prayed to the God of heaven. Then I answered the king.” It had to be a very brief prayer: “Help, Lord!”—or something like that.

He asked permission to go and rebuild. Wish granted.

He didn’t attribute the favorable response to his smooth spiel, or to good luck. He said, “Because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my request.”

Whatever you’re facing . . . First, pray.

You don’t have to pray well. The power of prayer
is not in the one who prays but in the one who hears.

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