As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.
— Nehemiah 1:4–7

Nehemiah 1:4-7 is one of the most poignant passages on fasting and intercession in the Scriptures. This passage demonstrates that complicity is compromise because we ignore God’s prompting for our involvement once we are made aware of problems. 

In this passage, Nehemiah boldly and humbly enters into a long and fruitful season of mourning, fasting and praying. With no regard for his position or prestige, Nehemiah repents and assumes full ownership for the sins of himself and his people. His gut-wrenching prayer was so powerful and refreshing as this is rarely seen today.

Today, Nehemiah’s intercession should make us all reexamine our priorities and possible ease in being a bystander in God’s work.

Repentance, fasting and prayer may seem unglamorous at first, but it often yields great fruit while achieving the desired outcome. 

Most importantly, we need believers concerned enough to rebuild the things of God’s torn down. Possibilities are endless for us who are willing to pray any price to manifest God’s glory in our lives. 

In conclusion, fasting and prayer has yet to meet a challenge it couldn’t conquer according to God’s will. As we fully divest ourselves through fasting and prayer, we become “open and ready for doing God’s Business.” The Gospel reminds us that Jesus spared no price to redeem and reconcile us back to God. God used Nehemiah to rebuild what was torn-down. What are we rebuilding?

Wolfgang Watkins
Vice President for Spiritual Development, Christian Union

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