First it was a fellow teacher leading us through this book, then it was my two-year-old's Sunday school class. But the Lord seemed to be drawing me to it.
In chapter one as Nehemiah is confronted with discouraging news, he takes his burden/grief to the Lord. What began as simply a concerned question regarding his homeland turned into a committed season of prayer.
Nehemiah pours out his heart in praise and confession to the awesome God. He first focuses on Who God is and then on the sin of his people. He counts himself one of them and like them, a sinner. He pleads for God to remember His own Word.
And as he concludes his prayer, it seems the Lord inspires a plan; this idea of mercy being granted from the king whose cup he bears is put into his head: ask for favor from the king whom you serve.
And then as soon as he asks, he stands up from his prayers. A peace pauses his prayer as he get up and goes to serve the king, still with some trepidation and yet with an obvious confidence in the King of kings Who is for him.
"And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me" (2:8, esv).
Do I pour out my heart like this? Do I acknowledge my own sinfulness with that of the sins of my nation? Do I claim the promises God has spoken in His Word? Do I rise from prayer convinced God is for me? And do I see answers to prayer as "the good hand of my God...upon me"?