Nehemiah 1:2-4—That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also isbroken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.
Ezra had been successful in restoring the temple and turning the people away from compromise, but the city was still vulnerable because the walls were in ruin. Thirteen years after Ezra’s trip, Nehemiah heard the news from a relative, that the people were discouraged and living in fear because the walls were not restored. Nehemiah immediately did the same thing Ezra did when he heard the news that the people of God were in trouble. He wept, mourned, fasted and prayed. He took the issue straight to the One who could do something about it. Great men of God have a heart for the people and know where the answer to their need is found. His prayer follows a pattern we see throughout the Word of God. First, he adores God. It helps us to remember the omnipotence of the One to whom we are praying. He confesses his sins and the sins of his ancestors. Confession reminds us of who we are and our position of not deserving all the kindness God pours out on us. Then he reminds God of His word. It is not as though God needs to be reminded, but it gives us faith to ask and the confidence that we are praying according to God’s will. If you pray according to the Word of God, you know you are praying as God desires. Finally, he asked God for the favor of the king because he was going to ask him for help in this matter. Nehemiah was in a very trusted security position. He must have earned that position through years of faithful service and a display of integrity. Those years of commitment may have seemed to have little impact on the Kingdom of God, but they led up to this one moment of influence.