Bible Study

Pray First

Pray First by Ruth O'Reilly-Smith

Press play to listen to the audio version of this article.

Nehemiah 2:1-8

Nehemiah was a Jewish exile and cup bearer to King Artaxerxes, ruler of the Babylonian Empire. A remnant of the exiles had returned to Jerusalem from seventy years of captivity and although they had rebuilt the Temple, the city walls and their gates still lay in ruins. It was something that deeply troubled Nehemiah and he couldn’t hide his sadness from the king. When Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah what was wrong, he became afraid. The outward expression of his inner sorrow could now get him killed, but he went on to explain the cause of his distressed soul and when he did, the king asked, “How can I help you?” (Nehemiah 2:4).

Nehemiah was standing before the most powerful ruler of the known world and he had a moment to respond to a question he may have liked to consider more carefully. As he takes a deep breath before speaking, Nehemiah prays to the God of heaven and then proceeds to ask the king for permission to travel to the city of Jerusalem so that he may rebuild it (v.4-5).

He also asks for letters of permission to safely pass through the nations he will travel through, along with provision for the timber needed to rebuild the gates, the walls and a house for himself. And the king granted Nehemiah what he asked for because the good hand of God was on him (v.8).

What do you do when someone asks you a question and you don’t know how best to respond?

Just as Nehemiah did, pray to the God of heaven before you speak. God responds to heartfelt prayers, whether they are shouted out loud, spoken in earnest, whispered under your breathe or silent in your thoughts. Take a moment to pray and then speak with confidence as one speaking with the authority that comes from heaven and watch how God gives you the right words to say at the right time and in the right way.

The God of heaven will move on your behalf because His good hand is on you.

© 2021 by Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

Featured Book

#GodSpeaks by Ruth O'Reilly-Smith

God Speaks – 40 Letters from the Father’s Heart

God Speaks is a beautiful hardcover gift book featuring forty short letters that have been compiled from the promises and affirmations of God in the Bible. Dive into this 40 day journey with God during Lent, at the start of a new year or anytime you feel like connecting with your Maker in a deeper way.