According to the book of Nehemiah there were at least six conditions to be met before God responded affirmatively to Nehemiah’s request.
Condition #1 There needs to be a valid need.
Need was the first condition for an immediate answer. The walls of Jerusalem represented a needed security for the remnant of Israelites who lived in Jerusalem. Without these walls, canada cure their survival was fragile and always in jeopardy. In American 20th Century society living without a similar security (Jerusalem walls) would be like living in a tent. God is always committed to taking care of “needs” (Psalm 37:23). It is the “wants” He sometimes says no to. When working with your children’s requests try to separate needs from wants. Needs are the necessities of life (food, buy clothing, shelter, love); wants improve upon those necessities (steak, gap labels, 4 bedroom homes, expensive vacations).
Condition # 2 Prayer is recognized as the path to accomplishing God’s will.
Nehemiah recognized from the beginning that nothing could be accomplished, even a good cause (the rebuilding of the walls), unless prayer preceded it. In Nehemiah’s experience, prayer was his first act in understanding God’s plan for Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4). This spoken relationship between Nehemiah and God was key to his life; it gave him an uncommon courage and resolves to carry out God’s assignment. As long as God was instructing him (though his prayers), Nehemiah felt anything was possible (Philippians 4:13). Besides he had nothing to fall back on; his cup bearing responsibilities to the king were hardly the tools necessary to rebuild an entire city wall in 52 days. Nehemiah’s prayers were quite personal and unrehearsed. “Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear my prayer.” This was typical of his approach to God, who he saw as a friend. Teach your children to have a similar approach; they need to sense that God speaks their language. (Nehemiah 1:6)
Condition # 3 The need for repentance is essential.
Even though Nehemiah was not personably responsible for the sinful actions of his fellow Israelites, he repented on their behalf before starting the project
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. (Nehemiah 1:6-7) The destruction of Jerusalem was not entirely caused by an overpowering enemy; it was actually due to Israel’s rebellion against God. Israel was God’s selected representative on earth; it was through them that all nations would come to know God. When they refused and went their own way, God maintained His love for them but withdrew His help. After a great deal of prayer, Nehemiah concluded that only an open apology (repentance) was necessary to bridge the gap Israel created. When he did, there was no end to God’s help; building a wall in 52 days was nothing to God. When training your children in righteousness, repentance is one of the most important things they can learn. An open apology is the healthiest thing they can do to restore their relationship with you and others in the family. Remember, God did not withdraw His love from Israel, He accepted their repentance (via Nehemiah) without reservation.
Condition # 4 There is a devotion to transparency.
Nehemiah was very open about his intentions to follow God’s plan. He knew that if he was transparent about his call it could cost him his life(Nehemiah 2:2-5). But Nehemiah decided that where God guides He provides. So he was honest with the king about his call to Jerusalem. He did not try and deceive the king; he did not pretend to have any other agenda. God honored him for his honesty. Because of it, the king did the opposite of what was expected and helped him complete the project. As parents you should create an atmosphere in your home where everyone can be transparent about what they feel. This begins with you. If you are not honest with your feelings, your children will not be honest with you. Honesty, transparency, and openness are richly rewarded by God for they are key to a “Yes” answer from Him.
Condition # 5 There is a commitment to work.
The prayers and actions of Nehemiah led him to organize and complete a building project that really was quite remarkable. His miracle was really quite unique, because his people would have to do a lot of work to make it happen. (Nehemiah 3:3) Unlike Moses who prayed, waited, and watched the hand of God part the Red Sea, Nehemiah’s miracle required a lot of grit and spiritual savvy. Both miracles were hallmarks, and both show how God uses a variety of ways to get His will done. When you are praying with your children about some of the things we have mentioned over these last few weeks, dialogue with them about ways they could help prayers get answered. Sometimes God will do all the work, especially if someone in your family is healed of an impossible medical condition. But there are other miracles, the Nehemiah miracles, where they can participate. Leading someone to Christ is a Nehemiah kind of a miracle; it involves your children and God. Together, they form a perfect partnership.
Condition # 6 There is a dependence on God’s power
Nehemiah knew he would face many enemies during this building project. This did not dissuade him though for he moved ahead with God’s plan under God’s power (Nehemiah 4:9). Before starting he walked to the edge of the city, surveying the damage. He could have quit at this point, but all he could see was a completed city. This is what a man of faith sees. He never sees what is; he sees what will be. He then planned for potential opposition for he knew there were many enemies who did not want this plan to succeed (Nehemiah 4:16). Through prayer, God helped Nehemiah devise a plan that allowed his people to both work on the wall and defend themselves at the same time. It was a brilliant plan, and before the enemy could draw a breath the wall was finished. In response they quickly retreated. This is perhaps one of the greatest lessons you can teach your children in regards to prayer and doing God’s will. The tendency in life when tough times hit are to drop everything. But according to Nehemiah, you keep building; you do not let the enemy stop what you are doing. And if you do, before long the enemy will have to back off because your walls of faith are too large to fight against. What things do you feel like quitting (church attendance, tithing, ministry positions) when it gets tough? Don’t!
The rebuilt walls of Jerusalem serve as a reminder to your children of what can be accomplished by responding to God’s projects of faith. The 52 days of rebuilding was nothing more than a project of faith. Because of their faith, Israel enjoyed the security of a safe haven, and the satisfaction of a defeated enemy. (Nehemiah 6:16). Out of fear, Israel’s enemies discontinued their marauding and retreated to their own cities, locking up their own city gates as fast as they could. When presenting this lesson to your children, take them around your neighborhood at night. Ask them why everyone’s door is closed. Perhaps they will say to keep the heat in or out according to where you live. Perhaps they will say to keep the bugs and dust out. After you have given them a chance to answer, ask them why the doors are locked. Hopefully, they will say for safety, to keep burglars and other evil people from breaking in. Then relate to them the story of Nehemiah, how through his faith he not only helped his people build a safe house but also sent his own prowlers in retreat. Tell your children that if they live their lives by faith, accepting each God given challenge along the way, they will not only be safe from evil, they will chase it away through God’s power (John 4:4).
When Jesus told Peter that He would establish His church on faith and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it, He was telling him that even hell itself would run for cover and hide behind its doors when faithful Christians show up (Matthew 16:18).
Word of God
Psalm 37:23 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things in him that strengthened me.
Nehemiah 1:4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,
Nehemiah 1:6-7 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee. Yea, I and my father’s house have sinned: 7we have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which thou commandest thy servant Moses.
Jeremiah 29:11-12 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. And ye shall call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
Nehemiah 2:2-5 And the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not ? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid. And I said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, for what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it.
Nehemiah 3:3 And the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build; they laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the bolts thereof, and the bars thereof.
Nehemiah 4:16 And it came to pass from that time forth, that half of my servants wrought in the work, and half of them held the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the coats of mail; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.
Nehemiah 6:16 And it came to pass, when all our enemies heard thereof, that all the nations that were about us feared, and were much cast down in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.
John 4:4 Ye are of God, my little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.
Matthew 16:18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.