Tuesday, October 30, 2012

prayer AND a good defense

And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.
Nehemiah 4:8-9

When the Jews who were rebuilding the defenses of Jerusalem were threatened by a coalition of outside enemies, Nehemiah responded very wisely. He prayed to God for protection. He kept his spiritual focus. God had called them to the work of rebuilding the walls. God would protect them in that hard work as well.

Nehemiah's prayer led him to action. That is important to notice and incorporate into our lives. He divided the workforce so that now half the men in each work station were solely tasked as guards, armed with spears, swords, and bows. In addition, each stone worker had a sword strapped to his side while rebuilding. This probably slowed down the project, but it kept morale high and vigilance focused. It managed to scare off the threat.

Many times we are tempted to think that to "trust God" spiritually means that we take no actions ourselves. But that is not wisdom. Trusting means taking truth to action. In this case, God providentially made the threat against Jerusalem know to Nehemiah. A faithful response was of course prayer. But it was also faithful to God to act in self-protection with that knowledge. Men were armed, guards posted, weapons procured, and even night shifts instituted in order to respond faithfully to what God had revealed. These were actions of faith just as much as prayer was.

Christians often fail to find the "AND" after prayer. The result is that we may see powerless prayer. God may call us to trust Him, but He also expects us to be wise as we trust Him. What if the wisdom God gives us to plan and perform is the answer He has already furnished to our prayer? Often, it is just that.

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