Needing and Wanting Passion: Avoiding the Process that Produces It

Wednesday is for Prayer

The government official sits, an exile in a strange land and ponders the fate of his country and people. He is busy, a sought after counselor to to the King and by others who think he can help them with the ruler in some way. But in the busyness of work and service his thoughts are dominated by the plight of those left behind in the ravaged land of his parents birth.

Day after day it continues, the demands of work and the concern for his countryman. Finally some visitors arrive from his homeland. He asks for and gets a report. Nehemiah listens with a meditative-born and perhaps prayer born passion. The report is not good.

The people of the land are in “great trouble and shame” (Nehemiah 1:1-2), the walls of Jerusalem are broken down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire (1:3). He quickly summarizes what it all means in his mind.

  • The people are dis-spirited (shamed)
  • They are un-accomplished (the walls are unrepaired)
  • They are without power and direction
  • They are without leadership and need help

Nehemiah’s first instinct is told in verse 4. “As soon as I heard these words, I sat down and mourned for days and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

Before he “does” anything he devotes himself to a season of prayer. He is a trusted official in King Artaxerxes court—he is a busy man with many who seek his time and influence, but he takes time to fast and pray. How long did he fast? We can ask him when we see him but my guess is that it was probably between 2-7 days. In the midst of a busy life with many demands from others on his time, Nehemiah organizes his life to receive the counsel of God.

This BLOG is directed primarily to church planters and missional leaders-men and women who are leading the people of God to be “on mission” for God. Some of you are employed by churches, many of you are not. You are “employed” by an engineering firm, or a school, or a restaurant, or a hospital. Some of you work for yourselves, some of you are out of work and looking, some of your are starting businesses and some of you are starting churches. All of us are busy.

And all of us need

  • 1) what Nehemiah had, and 
  • 2) what Nehemiah did.

What he had was a passion for people and God’s will. What he did was to organize his busy life in such a way as to get a clear vision from God of what he was to do next.

For days (vs 4) he prayed and fasted in the midst of a busy life, so that he could get God’s direction for what to do next. He didn’t stop doing his work. He added prayer and fasting. You church planters and pastors who are reading this, you know what you need to do. Just do it. You engineers and service workers, and mothers and fathers, and you who are jobless and employed, don’t dismiss Nehemiah’s example. Get it done. In the midst of our busy lives, all of us need to know God’s will for our next steps.

I’m praying for you, that, like Nehemiah (read the rest of the book), you will have great clarity and victory. If you need help getting started, e-mail me (Marty@radicalCHURCHplanting.com).

© Marty Schoenleber, Jr. 2010

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