I was talking with a friend of mine on the phone and was telling them a story that took a few minutes to relate. I had to give the back story to the story and then fill in the nitty gritty of the important aspects of the story. I threw in a couple of colorful phrases to jazz it up a bit. At the end of my verbal ranting I wanted some feedback from my friend. I asked him a question and there was no answer. Somehow he had been cut off and I was telling the story to wind. No one was listening. Total frustration. I had told the story in vain and had to call him back to tell the story all over again.
When Nehemiah prayed, he made sure that he was asking God to listen to his prayer as you read in the bold letters. “Then I (Nehemiah) said:“ Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.” Nehemiah 1:5-11 NIV
Nehemiah was asking God to lean his way so that He could hear what was on his mind. Nehemiah was also asking God to open His eyes so that He could see the pain that Nehemiah was in because of the problems his relatives were having back in Jerusalem. It wasn’t just one prayer that Nehemiah prayed, but he said that he had been praying day and night for days. Persistence in getting God’s attention is at the core of how serious we are in getting His attention and answering our prayers. I’m reminded of Jacob when he prayed all night with one of God’s workers (angels) and said that he (Jacob) wouldn’t let go until God blessed him.
Do we have that tenacity in our prayer life to stick with it until the Lord blesses us and answers our prayer. Nehemiah had it. Jacob had it. Getting the Lord to listen with His ears and eyes demands that we slow down and take the time to listen and hear what He is saying. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is a good reminder of our responsibility in order for us to hear God’s answer to our prayers.
On this journey, sometimes it is important to stop the noise and the movement in our lives if we truly want to hear what God has to say.