“Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.” Nehemiah 4:9
Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem, and the people that followed them are ready to do more that call names, shout and bluster.
It often gets that way when the object of an intimidators attention refuses to be intimidated. If words aren’t enough to get people to fall in line then more direct action is required.
I remember being told as a boy that bullies will back down if you stand up to them and generally I’ve found this to be true but not always. Sometimes the bully is willing to take it to the next level and fight for his demands knowing that the more people know that they’ll have to pay for any resistance they offer the less likely they’ll be to resist. And sometimes there are people that actually like to fight and physically hurt people.
Why do I say this? Because I think it’s best if we have realistic expectations so that we’re prepared for when we have to takes steps as situations begin to move beyond just words.
What was Nehemiah’s response? As always he prays but this time it’s not just Nehemiah that’s praying. Our focus text says, “WE made our prayer to God…” The passage doesn’t clarify exactly who the “we” included but it does tells us that Nehemiah is now drawing in others as he’s pressing his petitions and concerns to the throne of heaven.
There are some burdens that must be taken to God in a solitary way. Perhaps they’re too personal, too explosive, too apt to cause trouble and pain for other, too liable to give opportunity for others to cause trouble. But most burdens are best carried if they’re shared. Nehemiah knows this so he’s gathered around himself others who will pray together with him.
But they do more than pray. They set a watch to guard the people day and night. Additionally, they instruct the all workers to arm themselves. Some men go to work with their swords hanging at their sides, still others going to work holding a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other.
The watchmen were given trumpets so that if they were attacked they could signal and others from other parts of the wall could come to fight with them.
Because of their preparedness the fight never progresses beyond threats but later it will in other ways.
Friends, prayer needs to saturate and direct every part of our lives but we need to be ready to do more than pray. In the book Steps to Christ, Ellen White says, “He who does nothing but pray will soon cease to pray…” Prayer is most often preparatory to the actions we will take and we need to be ready to act.
Nehemiah was a person of action as well as prayer. Are you?