. . . I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants (Nehemiah 1:4-6 ESV)
The key to unity in the church, in a Christian marriage, in a family, in a ministry, or in any Christian community is submission to God first and foremost. Nehemiah knew this started with prayer. He prayed with serious intentionality. Fasting, praying, continuing to cry out to God.
4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 2:4)
He also had apparently mastered the shotgun prayer. Quick, sent up in a moment of stress. He lived in an attitude of prayer so that God was the first go-to for him in a pinch.
The beautiful result of this habit of prayer and living a surrendered life? Unity in the people of Israel.
I love that throughout these first few chapters, he treasures in his heart the leading of God on his life. He waits for just the right moment, after days of prayer and planning, to invite other followers of God into the project.
18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. (Nehemiah 2:18)
Then, they respond with full enthusiasm and committed hard work. They are all sold out to rebuilding with Nehemiah.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
Once again, I love how these chapters for today so beautifully weave themselves together. The unity as the Jews served God in the face of opposition to carry out His commands was “good and pleasant.”
And, it started with one man’s prayer and surrender to God, abiding in Him.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4,5)
17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:17)
As believers we are meant to function this way, one with Christ, one with each other, unable to restrain His love as it bursts from us and floods our relationships with each other. Whether it’s building a house, rebuilding a marriage, sharing the gospel, or heading to the ends of the earth, our personal faith should overflow into corporate unity within the body of Christ.
To God be the Glory.