The Pre-Work of Prayer

So I’m doing Kelly Minter’s Bible study on Nehemiah and it is kicking my butt! I’ve never really studied Nehemiah–well, I’m sure we did some kind of overview of the book in my Old Testament Survey class, but somehow whatever I learned dribbled out of my brain over the past few years. Anyway, his life is so encouraging and challenging.

If you’re not familiar with Nehemiah’s story, basically he was in a position of power/prestige (and most likely wealth) as the royal cupbearer to King Artaxerxes when he hears that Jerusalem is broken down. His countrymen’s plight breaks his heart and he cries out to God (Neh. 1). Artaxerxes asks Nehemiah why he looks depressed and Nehemiah asks permission to go rebuild the wall. This is a big deal because back in Ezra 4:8-23 the king forbids the building of the wall. Instead of demoting Nehemiah (or killing him), Artaxerxes gives him permission and lavishes building materials and letters of safe passage on him (Neh. 2). Nehemiah becomes governor of Judah for 12 years (Neh. 5:14) and rebuilds the wall amidst all kinds of persecution (Neh. 2:11-7:1).

One thing that struck me was how perfect God’s timing is: Nehemiah 1 says that Nehemiah heard about Jerusalem and began praying in the month of Kislev. However, it isn’t until the month of Nisan that Nehemiah talks to King Artaxerxes. That’s about four months later. Nehemiah prays for four months before the timing is right. What if he had just blundered into the situation instead? What if the king’s heart hadn’t been prepared to give Nehemiah far above what he’d asked for?

Last week we ended up reworking the Scripture Index four times. It was extremely frustrating and stressful to be so close and yet to keep re-doing work for various reasons… not to mention computer problems and the stress of knowing we were past our planned date for getting the proof. But, in the midst of all the teeth grinding, I was reminded that this is God’s book and His timing is perfect. What if I could somehow force publication apart from God’s timing? What if I missed something amazing because I was so eager to be done?

I want to do the pre-work of prayer and finish in God’s perfect time. Please pray for us during these last bits of finishing: Pray that God will take out anything that ought not to be in Tales. Pray that He’ll add in what He wants added. Pray that He’ll continue to provide the right people to give feedback and the eyes for them to spot needed changes. Pray for perseverance on my part, especially in the midst of increased health challenges. Pray that God will delay/speed publishing so that Tales is published in His perfect time. Pray that the right people will read Tales once it’s published and that God will use it to change hearts.

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