The First Step

Read: Nehemiah 1

When Nehemiah’s name is mentioned most people remember the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. This was one of Nehemiah’s greatest callings and accomplishments for the Lord. He was a brilliant planner, organizer, and motivator for sure. But when Nehemiah sensed this call upon his life his first step was not to plan, organize, talk to the king, or begin his trip back to Jerusalem, it was to pray.

The first chapter of Nehemiah includes his prayer. He prayed for forgiveness, he offered praise and thanksgiving, and he committed himself to the Lord’s will. Only after a time of mourning, fasting and praying did he have the courage to go to the king and ask if he could return to Jerusalem to help his people and rebuild the broken down walls.

In our fast paced world we are often tempted to barrel straight ahead with what we think is the right direction. I wonder what would have happened if Nehemiah would have preceded in that way? What if he did not take time to mourn for what had happened, to fast and seek after God’s direction through prayer? Things might have ended up much differently for him. Perhaps the king would not have been so willing to let him depart from Susa?

The first step for Christians should always be prayer. We need to make sure that our will aligns with God’s will. Yes, he placed something on our heart, but the entire plan and direction may come through many hours of prayer and discernment, not the first inclinations of our flesh. Each of us have different personalities and some of us (including myself) have to be reminded of this first step from time to time.

If your first temptation is to act, step back and think about the first step that Nehemiah took. Prayer and open communication with the Lord can open up many doors that human minds have not even considered. If you read the entire book of Nehemiah you will see that this was not a one time decision for Nehemiah, he often turned to the Lord in prayer and asked the Lord to remember him, to deal with his enemies, and to use him in only the way God desired. Hopefully that will be our approach as well.

Make it personal: Prayer should be the first step to big decisions in our life for sure, but it can also be the first step to each day. Beginning our day with prayer opens up the life line that we have with Jesus and we can continue to rely on that life line throughout the day. The first step to our day should be to pause in prayer.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church