January 20, 2020
7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
King Artaxerxes has agreed to Nehemiah’s request to go home and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. No small request, and no small task. But in verse 7, we see Nehemiah, perhaps emboldened by the king’s favor, begin to ask for more. It’s not just about permission for Nehemiah to leave the palace. In verse 7 he asks the king to use his political power over the governors between the palace and Jerusalem. In verse 8 he asks for access to the royal park for timber – effectively asking the king to underwrite the rebuilding of the temple, the city gates, and a residence for Nehemiah.
The king says yes to all of that and sends army officers and cavalry along, too! The king leverages his political, economic, and military power to grant Nehemiahs’ request. Yet none of that would have happened if Nehemiah hadn’t asked.
What is something you really want? Not just something that would be nice or pleasant, but something you want in a deep-down place in your soul. Respect from a colleague. Justice. Healing from a past hurt. Reconciliation of a broken relationship. The start of a new relationship. Peace of mind.
Nehemiah’s story shows us that we need to first align our hearts with God, and then ask boldly for what our hearts want. But here’s the catch. We need to be ready to accept what an answered prayer looks like. For Nehemiah it looks like leaving a secure position for a treacherous journey and a nearly impossible task. Think back to that thing you want in that deep-down place. What might it look like if God says “Yes” to you. It probably means sacrifice. It certainly means change. It might mean accepting the unknown.
Are you ready to accept the challenge and sacrifice of answered prayer? If you are, then I encourage you to begin asking regularly for what it is that you want. Don’t see challenges, transitions, or uncertainty as delays. See them as a necessary part of answered prayer.