I don’t know what your natural reaction is when you face opposition and persecution. Maybe it is to run away from the situation, to get yourself out of the room, away from the confrontation and hope it will go away.
Or maybe you react with excess strength and retaliate, saying things you later regret or getting physical and pushing the problem away. Fight or flight.
Completely natural human responses to potential danger. But Nehemiah, as we learnt in chapter 1, is a man of constant prayer. It is part of his daily pattern and rhythm.
It is as normal for him as breathing. So, when he faces the mocking of Sanballat and Tobiah, his response is not to react with force or to panic and run, but to pause and pray, ‘Hear us, our God’.
This moment reminds us of the prayer of the penitent tax collector in Luke 18, ‘Lord, have mercy on me a sinner’, which is often referred to by the Greek phrase Kyrie eleison, a short prayer stating ‘Lord, have mercy’.
A daily prayer response for many orthodox Christian traditions. How often are we guilty of reacting in the moment and not pausing to pray before we respond.
How many of us have regrets of that time when we have said something in the heat of an argument. If we had just paused and prayed ‘Hear us, our God’ before responding more thoughtfully, would the outcome have been different?
A Prayer To Make:
1‘Lord, thank You that You are merciful. That you go before us. Sorry when we have reacted in the moment rather than turned to You in prayer. May we become more aware of Your closeness in the middle of the storm. Amen.’
An Action To Take:
Practise making this short prayer of ‘Hear us, our God’ or ‘Lord, have mercy’ a daily exercise. A pause in your busy day. Before you go to a meeting, start your car or begin a conversation.
Scripture To Consider:
Pss. 6 & 31:1–5; Matt. 15:21–28; Luke 18:9–14