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.” Nehemiah 1:3-4
Book of Nehemiah
The book of Nehemiah continues the history of the Jews who returned from exile in Babylon. Nehemiah gave up his job as cup-bearer to Artaxerxes, the Persian king, to become governor of Jerusalem. Nehemiah went to Jerusalem in 444 BC, almost 100 years after the return of the first exiles. Nehemia led the people in repairing the walls of Jerusalem and with Ezra provided leadership for the people. An important part of this book is the importance of prayer.
Lord let me see. Let me know you.
After much searching and praying, we bought a house in Dallas as a pre-sell. Pre-sell means that we sign a contract to buy a house before it is publicly offered and way before it is built. A bigger house than we intended. But not too big. After over 10 years of searching and not finding anything that seemed right, this house that I haven’t even seen the model house of felt right due to the location and beautiful surroundings.
After signing the contract and paying a down payment, we went to the builder’s design presentation. So much wonderful upgrades to be made at a cost. I became anxious. Can we afford all these? Should we not upgrade at all and just take the basic features and hire contractors to do upgrades a la carte? Is the house located too close to the major road exposing it to the street noise and pollution?
Worries started to set in. Tiny nagging in the recess of my mind. But overall, I am at peace and joyful. I’ve prayed alone and with Peter my husband. I felt confident that this is the right place and right time.
It will take 9-10 months to build the house. We’ll get to have time to prepare and see it being built brick by brick.
Reading the first 2 chapters of Nehemiah, I am reminded of the right way of carrying out a project. First pray, wait for an answer from God (a certain sign or feeling of certainty/peace) and then take the first step.
Pray while taking each of the subsequent steps. Nehemiah was a big man concerned about the wellbeing of his people the Israelites. He prayed and was provided with everything he needed. Permission from the king of Persia to rebuild Jerusalem, wisdom to secure protection on the road by asking the king to write letters to the governors of the Trans-Euphrates province and for military escort. It shows Nehemiah’s high status in Persia which he was willing to give up to work on restoring Jerusalem.
I was right to pray first in my search for a new house. But then I got carried away. Let’s keep on praying and then follow His lead step by step. The house should not be a trophy of my accomplishment. It should be a temple where we worship, do His work, rest and have fun in that order.
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.” Nehemiah 1:5-10