Recently, while visiting a local church, the Pastor announced the start a new series called Bold. The Pastor shared that many Christians are living bland lives that blend in rather than stand out. During one of the series messages called Bold Prayer, the Pastor asked a profound question… “If God came today and granted every intention we prayed for, would the prayers we prayed result in the world being changed into a better place?” Good question… are my prayers causing me to just blend in or are my prayers the kind the world needs to see that qualify me as an unashamed, gutsy believer… the kind of prayers that Nehemiah would have related to?
For days I mourned, fasted, and prayer to the God of heaven… “Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring You. Please grant me success today.” Nehemiah 1:4, 11.
Even in my strongest prayer to my Lord, I don’t think I’ve ever been this strong in my actions towards God… this was a bold prayer! Mourning? Fasting?? And not just for a few weeks and for something like chocolate, but real fasting. This was a prayer of intention! In his words, Nehemiah was able to relate true success to the depth of our prayer life. But then again, Nehemiah was a get-it-done kind of guy… when he took action, he began with prayer… an odd choice by many people’s thinking. To those who don’t know better, prayer can seem passive, as if the person praying expects God to do all the work!
But true, intentional prayer is a powerful first step we could take because prayer puts us in touch with our primary power source and aligns us on a successful trajectory. Prayer expects God to do all the work that we cannot do ourselves, and it doesn’t apologize for recognizing its need for God. In fact, the Bible expects us to pray always, and to pray always anticipating God to respond to us as in Philippians 4:6 (Do not be anxious about anything… by in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God) and in James 1:6 (But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.. because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea… blown and tossed by the wind.) Nehemiah knew his success depended on God. Much more was at stake than Nehemiah could handle on his own, so naturally, his prayers were filled with intensity and heartfelt longing for God to move.
Passionate, balanced prayer pours out our deepest impulses while recognizing that our preliminary role as doers for God require us to find out first what God would have us do. Prayer seeks… prayer desires… prayer expects. God created that form of communication, and He wants us to put it to use. He wouldn’t tell us to pray if it served no purpose or if he wasn’t the powerful force behind it!
When we speak with our Savior, decide to go deep, just as Nehemiah did. His passionate prayers of faith moved God’s hand to help the people successfully build the wall. An exciting thought is to discover how many more successes God wants to lead us to… if we just commit to fervent, bold prayer!
Lord, you are the God of success! Please show me through Your communication of prayer what your definition of success involves for me, and help me to put my heart and soul into staying close to you in prayer… Amen!