Nehemiah 2:4 ~ "Then the king said to me, 'What are you requesting?' So I prayed to the God of heaven."
In the great dilemma of Nehemiah, as he was confronted by the broken walls of Jerusalem, he needed to gain favor from King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah, as cupbearer to the king, had the responsibility to keep a pleasant demeanor in the king's presence. However, this time he was sad--and the king noticed.
Nehemiah's heart was grieved over the sins of his people and the condition of Jerusalem due to the disciplinary judgment of God. He could not hide his countenance from the king--but he could not depart to try and regain his composure. He was in a quandary.
So what did the cupbearer do? He prayed.
Before you go thinking that Nehemiah dropped to his knees before King Artaxerxes, he most certainly did no such thing. It would have been a direct affront to the king, and Nehemiah's life would be in peril at the instant.
So, then, how did Nehemiah pray? We have no words recorded concerning this moment of prayer, no statement as to what he prayed. It was an "emergency prayer."
In Nehemiah chapter one, when he received word of the dreadful condition of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, Nehemiah prayed then--and it is recorded in great detail. Not the prayer of chapter two however, that prayer was not recorded because it was not spoken. It was a prayer of the mind and heart--and God hears those prayers too.
A life and practice of prayer is of inestimable value for the Christian. A daily habit of personal engagement before the Lord in prayerful consideration of all that is happening in and through your life will be of more worth than you can even now know. If you have not done so, let me encourage you to begin developing a constancy of daily prayer. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus even tells us to pray in secret to your Father in heaven: "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
But emergency prayers will be of great worth to you as well. When Peter was about to drown after stepping off the boat (see Matthew 14:30), he had no eloquence of speech or lengthy time of prayer. Three little words sufficed: "Lord save me!"
And even if you cannot utter a word upon your lips, your mind and heart can cry out to God in the moment of the emergency and He will hear your prayer. Then do what is right in the next moment, obey God with your next step, and trust that He will strengthen you to the task and give you the needed courage to do what He has commanded.
In the Gospel of Luke 11:17 it said that Jesus knew their thoughts. So if God knows the thoughts of those who are wicked, surely He knows the thoughts and internal prayers of His children.
Remember also what Paul said in Romans 8:26-27, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."
Perhaps you're confronting someone at the grocery store with the gospel. Maybe you are standing before some formal review and must give an account. You might be at the bedside of an atheist as they face their final breath on this earth. You don't have time to kneel down for a lengthy prayer. Lift up your mind and heart to the Lord and pray to the God of heaven who hears your every thought. He will strengthen you to do that which is right, and be His witness in the moment that He gives. You can trust Him, even with your emergency prayers.
In His Grace,
From the Mountains to the Sea
Every step we take on this journey called life ought to be used for greater understanding. I've lived from the mountains to the sea, and this blog is my personal thoughts and observations with a desire for Biblical understanding. Welcome.