A leader is, first of all, a pray-er. He or she knows the value, the essential value, of prayer. Prayer is not an add-on for the leader’s life. It is necessary, essential equipment for success in the spiritual realm. Wise leaders – CEO’s; business owners, managers, teachers, church staff, supervisors – will pray. The presidents of our nation have seen the necessity of prayer to accomplish the overwhelming leadership they must offer. A president who won’t pray won’t bring blessing to his people, and will make decisions that negatively impact people.
But God will not force us to pray. God wants to “take the wheel” (thanks Carrie Underwood!) but will ride quietly along and let us drive the car off the road or over the cliff… if we’d rather do it without Him. And it happens every day. We see leaders falling around us… in business, politics and churches… because prayer has not been practiced and relied upon.
Nehemiah was a pray-er. In fact more than anything else, Nehemiah is known not for his construction prowess but for his prayer life! The first chapter of Nehemiah begins with the longest prayer he offered… in the context of an intense four month prayer session! Nehemiah joins Daniel as the prophet in Daniel 9 prays a prayer in a foreign kingdom that literally changed his nation. Nehemiah prayed a nation-shaping prayer.
God is always looking for a man or woman who will pray… who will “stand in the gap…” and who would “rebuild a wall of righteousness” around the nation. (Ezekiel 22:30) When you pray you are putting another stone in the wall. And another. And another. America needs those prayers today.
Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest models of leadership America ever produced, was often, in his own words, “driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that there was no place else to go.” A prideful, prayer-less leader will tear down the wall. At the end of a president’s time in office, he is often concerned about the legacy he will leave. Every leader leaves such a legacy. They will either leave office with the wall of righteousness around the nation stronger… or weaker.
Nehemiah prayed to “the great and awesome God.” He took his concern to the only One who could help. The “God of the heavens.” The One who is great and awesome and faithful in covenant-keeping. Any other prayer is only beating the air vainly. It is a waste of breath. It is useless. Only One can answer prayer.
As we learn from Nehemiah’s prayer, we see he had a very high view of God. He saw God high and lifted up in glory… robed in righteousness and seated upon His throne. He is a God who keeps “covenants and mercy.” He is the God Nehemiah knew heard him as he prayed.
And as we pray, we must pray before the same God who heard Nehemiah’s prayer over 2,600 years ago. Because today…
He still hears us.
FOR MEMORIZATION: And I said, “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love you and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night… ” Nehemiah 1:5-6
FOR REFLECTION: A.W. Tozer said “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” If that is so, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about God?