Day 2

The King Sent Me to Jerusalem

from the Nehemiah reading plan

Nehemiah 2:1-10, Psalm 137:1-9, Hebrews 12:18-24

BY Rebecca Faires

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 2:1-10, Psalm 137:1-9, Hebrews 12:18-24

Have you ever been so worried you couldn’t do your job? You’re supposed to be watercolor painting, but all you can think about is the outcome of your mom’s surgery? Or you’ve tried to be present in a classroom full of third graders, but you can hardly see their faces because all you can think about is the broken heart of your sister? Beyond even these pains, have you ever felt a burning passion that you might be called to something else while you must continue to intone, “Thank you for your purchase, have a nice day”?

I imagine this is how Nehemiah felt as he worked in the service of King Artaxerxes. He had a great job, but while working, he heard really terrible news from Jerusalem: The walls are down! The gates are burned! Our people are living in shame! (Nehemiah 1:3). This news was heartbreaking for him.

The first thing Nehemiah did was pray. But then he went back to work. For about four months, he showed up to work every day and did his job, not saying a word about his own personal bad news, even though his heart ached. It’s shocking how the world mercilessly grinds forward in spite of our personal griefs. Regardless, sometimes we just have to show up and keep on doing our work.

During this time Nehemiah prayed continually and earnestly. And even though he hadn’t breathed a word of his personal anguish to the king, the king saw it written on his face and reached out to him, saying, “Why are you sad?” Nehemiah then confessed his heartbreak, to which the king immediately asked, “What is your request?” (2:2,4).

And here is a wonderful moment. The very thing he had longed for—a chance to get exactly what he needed to rebuild Jerusalem—appeared right in front of his nose: a king ready to hear his request, with all the power of the Persian empire in his hands. What did Nehemiah do? Rush in with his five-year plan? Build a case to woo the king’s heart to support his passion project? No. None of that. The first thing Nehemiah did was pray. As my pastor, George Grant, would say, “Instead of running to the throne of the world, [Nehemiah] runs to the throne of the Lord.”

Nehemiah was a man committed to prayer. And once he had prayed, he was a man ready for hard work. He asked the king to send him to rebuild the city and a people. By trade, Nehemiah was a white collar palace worker; he attended the king and brought him wine. He wasn’t a city planner, and he didn’t have experience rebuilding walls. But God had called him to rebuild a city, and Nehemiah was a willing worker.

Whether he was working for the king in Persia or rebuilding his homeland in Jerusalem, Nehemiah worked for the Lord. This can be such a difficult and painful thing to do. As the psalmist cries out, “How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil?”(Psalm 137:4). How can we continue to praise the Lord when things are terrible, when everything has gone spectacularly wrong? How can we obey when obedience is the furthest thing from our hearts? By continually turning to the Lord in prayer.

Before we decide what to do: pray.
Before we do it: pray.
After we begin: pray.

In this manner, our relationship with God is written on all the hours of our days. May we learn to humble ourselves before Him and submit our requests to Him, instead of bowing to the powers of this world. May our lives become a song of prayer unto the Lord.


Post Comments (135)

135 thoughts on "The King Sent Me to Jerusalem"

  1. Heather Totten says:

    It is such a blessing just reading everyone’s comments. Seeing all the ways the Holy Spirit brings Gods word to life in our hearts. He is faithful even in our brokenness, may we take our heartache to him that he may lighten our burdens and direct our steps.

  2. Amanda says:

    The first thing he did was mourn, fast, and pray (1:4) and then we get the recorded prayer in 5-10. I love his actions: mourn (1:4), fast (1:4), pray (1:4), confess (1:6), believe in God’s promises (1:8-9) wait (2:1), pray (2:4), act (2:9). I often skip straight to act….

    1. Kim Davila says:

      Me too. I act. I go straight to that TOO often. I need to put more effort into slowing down and following Nehemiah’s lead

    2. Vanessa Pardi says:

      Love your post. This is exactly what I noticed. We are quick to act though. It’s hard to stop and present things to God before acting. I think this is more of a challenge to us women as we are wired to make things happen right away.

  3. Shelby Lynn says:

    Oh how our face shows the emotion of our heart, as in Nehemiah 2:2. Reading that Nehemiah constantly seeks the Lord prior to doing anything, instills a drive in me that I have been doing this thing called ‘life’ all wrong. Sometimes we rush and pray ‘Lord please help me,’ but sadly it’s just speech and we don’t permit ourselves to actually breathe and call upon the Lord with our hearts thus clearing our hearts eye to be able to receive the Word of the Holy Spirit given to us by our gracious God.
    Lord, I come to you today asking for you to break my heart and help me mold it to your desire for me. Please allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate me and kick out impure, caustic, destructive thoughts. Please give me peace within your Word; as I read a time long ago but allow the message to be received despite your book being written for you and showing us your goodness; allow me to see your goodness that you have done in the Bible and allow it to bring light to my world.

  4. Judy English says:

    Question. Towards the end you stated that God called Nehemiah to rebuild the walls. Would you give me the verse where that’s found. Thank you.

    1. Eleny Morales says:

      11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2:11-12

  5. Kathy Valentine says:

    Nehemiah asked to rebuild the walls which Psalm 137:7 describes as being laid bare “down to its foundations.” It occurred to me that while a building can be torn down or burned to the ground, it is much more difficult to destroy its foundation. I’m claiming this for our older children who may have walked away from the faith foundations poured into them when they were young. There is hope for rebuilding their lives in Jesus!

    1. Laurel McDermott says:

      I’ve been concerned about one of my adult children as well, your words were a good reminder for me. Thank you! I will pray this too.

    2. Heather N (MNmomma) says:

      yes! I claim this truth and promise for my middle boy….

  6. Monica Davis says:


  7. Logan says:

    I found my brain comparing Nehemiah to Esther and how she asked the king to save the Jews. It made me realize that when we have respectful relationships with people in power or opposing beliefs, they are often more inclined to have an open mind to our own. It is so clear in both those stories how God masterfully used Nehemiah and Esther to help His people. I’m also really inspired by Nehemiah’s devotion to prayer. I pray that I will be as faithful a prayer warrior as he was.

    1. Karen Kilps says:

      I also noticed parallels between the story of Nehemiah and Esther. God placed both of them where they were at an appointed time – to do a work that He had prepared in advance for them to do. And He also gave them favor with the earthly kings in order to accomplish that work. I love seeing glimpses of God’s sovereignty throughout scripture.

  8. Aubri Foster says:

    My nephew was swept away on a river because of a dam release on Saturday and we are still trying to find him. My heart truly is breaking for my sister and I have to teach juniors and seniors. I am a Bible teacher. Christian Living is the name of the class. Last week we studied suffering… I can’t even wrap my brain around all the ways the Lord is (and has this year) drawing me to himself to not just talk the talk, but to walk the walk. Today’s study is CLEARLY for me. That I am doing the right thing by washing my face and living real with the people God has called me into community with. My prayers have not ceased. The name of the Lord is on my lips, heart, and mind constantly. I want so desperately to just hide in bed, or stay by the river, or cling so tightly to our family, but my Lord calls me to him. To the work he has for me. It is not fun. I feel a deep connection to Nehemiah. To brokenness walking. But I will walk. I will work. Before I do, I will praise the name of Jesus. While I do, I will praise the name of Jesus. After all is done, I will praise the name of Jesus. – I don’t normally post, but I just needed to stay thank you today. Thank you for studies like this that are clearly not fun, or easy, but sharing them anyway. Speaking truth anyway. The word of the Lord on your app first thing in the morning is a balm to my soul. So thank you.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Aubri, we’re so sorry to hear this. Thank you for sharing. We’re praying over you and your family during this time. We are so grateful to have you a part of this community. -Margot, The SRT Team

    2. Makaeya Brock says:

      I do not normally post either, but you need to know how much of an encouragement you are. Thank you. Praying for you and your family. Press on.

    3. Sylvia Tomlinson says:

      I’ve never posted as well. Thank you for sharing your

    4. Sylvia Tomlinson says:

      …. brokenness walking. Your family will be in my prayers.

    5. Sylvia Tomlinson says:

      I hope my messy attempt of posting brings a smile to your lips. I’m so awkward, Lucy like;) Thank you for your honesty. So beautifully written. Praying now.

    6. Elenoa Delana says:

      I’m blessed by this reading. Timely reminder for me to keep believing and never to cease praying.
      And thank you Aubri, I’m also blessed by your testimony! Thank you for sharing this.

    7. Kathy Valentine says:

      Praying your nephew will be found, Aubri. Asking Jesus to hold all of you close to His heart during this time.

    8. Laura D'Amico says:

      I’m praying for the safe return of your nephew, and that the Lord will hold you and your loved ones close during this time. May you encounter His peace that surpasses all understanding. ❤️

    9. Stephanie Goodwin says:

      Any update, Aubri? Love and prayers!!

    10. Shelbi Archer says:

      I’m praying for you Aubri. I have been in a very similar situation as you, and it was the most difficult time of my life. Praying for God’s peace that surpasses understanding while you wait- I never truly understood how that felt until I went through this with one of my best friends. He is sweet and He is close ❤️.

    11. Aubri Foster says:

      Thank you so much for your prayers. I can feel them! I put a link to the article the news paper did of him, and I have been posting publicly on Facebook for the first time in my life. I’m OVERWHELMED by the outpouring of love from people I don’t even know. He was found on Friday and he is with the Lord. We are now planning his memorial and I am in awe by the Love of the Body and the sustaining strength of the spirit. Sometimes my legs and arms go a little numb during the day, but I am held up!

      1. Stephanie Goodwin says:

        So sorry for your loss! Continuing to pray.

    12. Yvette Ling says:

      Praying for you and your family.

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