Yesterday we studied the OT Hero, Nehemiah. We saw that he was a man of prayer. In fact, it seems like most of the book of Nehemiah is a prayer journal. As we read the story of his passion to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, little prayers are sprinkled throughout, personal prayers from Nehemiah’s heart and mind.
When he gets the news that Jerusalem’s walls are in ruins, he prays immediately.
When he nervously walks into the presence of the king with a sad face on, and the king says “What’s wrong? What can I do for you?”, the first thing Nehemiah does is pray.
This pattern runs through the entire book, and in fact the final line of the book is another personal prayer.
It seems to me that Nehemiah had developed a continual conversation with God. He knew how to have times of set, formal prayer, as he demonstrates in prayer and fasting at the beginning of the story. But he also went to prayer so effortlessly, so quickly in a moment’s notice when trouble arose. God was always there, having never left, and the relationship between the two was current, active, engaged. I love how he remarks in 8:10 “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” He could say this because he experienced it personally.
This closeness with God reminds me of a monk who would live about 2000 years after Nehemiah. Brother Lawrence also learned to converse with God all day long. You can read his story here. It is a short, but powerful story that is perhaps the best illustration of Paul’s admonition that we should “pray without ceasing.” Lawrence worked in the monastery kitchen, and would be so deeply engrossed in talking with God while washing dishes and preparing meals, that he gave up on daily formal prayer. To return to his room for devotions was for him a distraction from his conversation with God. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have such closeness all day with the Lord?
Let us be people who find the joy of the Lord as our strength as we learn to converse with him all day long.