By Not Known
We struggle between the tension of praying and action (planning). Some are comfortable with the aspect of praying by faith into a great unknown, living with ambiguity and uncertainty – all the while resisting the urge to over-plan, because we want to “leave room for God.” Some are comfortable with over- planning, having the steps laid out in an orderly fashion before we go forward. We want to know where we are going before we commit ourselves to prayer.
Which side of this tension are you on? Truth is each of us will feel more comfortable on one or the other. But as we see in this week’s sermon, prayer and action are not mutually exclusive. It belongs together, one after the other. Hence, Nehemiah was a person of both prayer and action.
Nehemiah challenges us to keep praying while at the same time, planning, prepared and ready. This is true for us as a church, and this is true for us in our daily lives. Between chapters 1 and 2, was a period of a four month wait. Throughout that time, he faced the unknown, yet he kept on praying and waiting for an opportunity for action. God often works in our lives this way.
No matter which side of the tension we are on, we tend to get hasty and impatient. We want our prayer or planning to be quickly answered right away. But God often delays his answers not because he is unwilling. We are taught again and again in Scripture to persevere in prayer – to keep praying, seeking God. In God’s time, the answer will come.
We must plan and move forward, living with the certainty of not knowing what will happen next, or when the next trial will arrive. However, we too need to be in a state of prayerful dependence on God – walking the faith while making those plans. Like what 2:4 shows us, as soon as the king asked him “What’s your request?”, Nehemiah was able to tell him the plan almost immediately. This was the result of constant prayer and planning and waiting for an opportunity from God. God uses the period to show him, to guide him what action to take. For when God answers his prayers, it comes fast and unexpectedly. If he had not prayed and planned, when he was presented with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the king, he would have let it slipped by, because he was not prepared.
Let us learn from Nehemiah; to pray so that we would keep focus on God; to plan so that we would be prepared when God gives us to opportunity to act. Let us not live from day to day, but through prayer and planning, allow ourselves to be in a position for God to work in us and through us for carrying out the work or his glory.