“As soon as I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and I continued fasting and praying before the God of Heaven.”
– Nehemiah 1:4
Oh, this just carries on the theme, doesn’t it? Of what we’ve been praying through in Ezra. Like right in Nehemiah 1:4, after seeing Ezra at the end of the book that bears his name falling on his face and weeping and mourning over sin and praying and fasting and entreating God.
What are the needs among God’s people that would cause us to sit down and weep and pray for God’s grace in the middle of that?
Walls Broken Down
So now, at the very beginning of the book of Nehemiah to read, as soon as he about how the walls were broken down around Jerusalem, and the people were in disgrace, he sat down and wept and mourned for days, and he continued fasting and praying before the God of Heaven. The same themes here, again, and specifically here in light of the need that Nehemiah was made aware of. In the verses right before this, he asked about the people who had returned Jerusalem. He hears verse three, says the remnant there who has survived. The exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are destroyed by fire. And in response to that news about how the people were in such need, Nehemiah sits down in weeps and mourns and fasts and prays.
Nehemiah 1:4 Leads Us to Weep for God’s Grace
So I just wonder if it might be valuable for us. Not just in this podcast episode, in a broader way, to pause and reflect on the needs in our local churches. The needs for health and peace and joy and strength and focus on mission and focus on God’s glory and unity. So many different things. And each one of us has different churches that we’re a part of. Like what are the needs among God’s people that would cause us to sit down and weep and mourn and fast and pray for God’s grace in the middle of that?
And then I would take it to another level as well, like needs in the world around us. Doesn’t it seem right to fast and to pray and to mourn and weep over 3 billion people who have little to no knowledge of the gospel today? So that God would change that. That God would cause the unreached to be reached. Then specific ways to pray for Yemen and the church. Yemen or Somalia and the few Christians that are there in Somalia.
Or to fast and pray a for brothers and sisters in North Korea. For the spread of the gospel in North Korea. And you could go on and on down the list. Go to stratus.earth just to look at the countries at the top of that Stratus index. The more you learn, you’ll be driven to, I hope, sit down and weep and mourn and fast and pray for days. And the whole picture here in Nehemiah 1:4, if we had time to dive into it is for months he was seeking the Lord like this.
Nehemiah 1:4 Urges Us to Seek the Lord
So God, we pray that you would open our eyes. You would help us to see needs around us. Needs specifically among your people in your church. In each of our churches. In such a way that we’re brought to our knees in weeping and mourning and fasting and praying. God help us to fast and pray in light of needs around us, in your church for your help and your mercy. And God to do the same when we see needs around us in the world, in our cities, our communities, and among the nations. God, for 3 billion people who have little to no knowledge of the gospel today.
So God, we pray, help us to mourn and weep over that. God give us your heart for them. Help us to see urgent, spiritual and physical need in the world and to respond like Nehemiah did here. God make us a people who mourn and weep and fast and pray in light of needs around us. And as we do pray, just like you did in Nehemiah 1 and the verses of follow, you would hear our prayers and you would answer them. That you would lead us in our lives to be a part of meeting needs and glorifying your name in the face of urgent needs around us. So God, make us like Nehemiah in this way. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.