“Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.”
Nehemiah 2:4, 5
Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the Babylonian king, Artaxerxes. When Nehemiah heard of the great destruction and despair in Jerusalem, his heart was broken. As Nehemiah told the king of his great concern and burden, the king said unto him, “For what dost thou make request?” Nehemiah records his response, “I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king.” This great leader sets forth in his reply two worthy principles for our consideration. One has to do with the options that are available to us in time of need. For Nehemiah, the options included the Lord and the king. The other lesson has to do with the order of his requests. He first prayed to God, and then he addressed the king.
All of us know what it is to have needs. These needs are spiritual, emotional, physical, or financial. Where do we go with our needs? When we were young, we usually took our needs to our parents and expected them to take care of each one. However, with adulthood comes the awareness that we are more directly responsible for our welfare. Nehemiah teaches us that there are both human and divine sources of assistance, but that we are to first look to God in faith. Actually, our human aids are only as sufficient as God allows them to be. There was nothing wrong with Nehemiah’s request that the king send him to Judah, with the goal of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. But Nehemiah was not so presumptuous as to go to the king before he first went to God in prayer.
God wants us to trust Him for our needs. He may use some other agency or individual to supply our needs, but we are to look to Him first. We may go to the doctor to get physical attention or go to the pastor for counseling, etc., but we should first pray for God to guide and provide. At times, He will meet our need in such a way that we know it is a definite and specific answer to prayer. If we are always depending on God through prayer, it pleases Him because we are living by faith. God wants us to always be looking to Him, relying on Him, and learning to call on Him first.