In Nehemiah 4:4, we find three words that are vitally important to remember when we are trying to stand through a storm: “And Nehemiah prayed.” How did he respond to all the attacks that came against him — the laughing, the anger, the rage, the judgment, the criticism, being told his desired goal was impossible? He prayed!
Let me ask you: What would happen if you prayed every single time you felt afraid or intimated? What if you prayed every time you were offended, or every time someone hurt your feelings? What if you prayed immediately every time some kind of judgment or criticism came against you? Would your life be different? Would you be able to withstand those storms better? Of course you would.
We can learn an important lesson from Nehemiah’s prayer: “Hear, O our God,” he said, “for we are despised. Turn their taunts upon their own heads, and give them for a prey in a land of their captivity” (Nehemiah 4:4). Notice that Nehemiah didn’t go after his enemies himself; he asked God to deal with them. His attitude was, “I’m doing Your will! You told me to build this wall and I am busy building it. You will have to take care of my enemies!”
Many times God tells us to do something or gives us an assignment and we begin doing it. But then the enemy comes against us, and when we turn to fight him, we turn away from God. Suddenly, the enemy has all of our attention. We spend our time fighting him instead of praying and asking God to intervene.
Nehemiah knew better than to let his enemies command his focus. He was aware of them, but he kept his eyes on God and the job God called him to do. And he simply prayed and asked God to deal with those who were attacking him.
Most of us will never forget September 11, 2011. I recently read an inspiring story about Stanley Praimnath, a banker who worked in Tower Two of the World Trade Center and miraculously survived the attacks. Stanley recalls: “For some particular reason, I gave the Lord a little extra of myself that morning (during prayer). I said, ‘Lord, cover me and all my loved ones under your precious blood.’ And even though I said that and believed it, I said it over and over and over.”
Soon after he arrived at his office on the eighty-first floor, Stanley glanced out of his window and saw Tower One on fire. He and a co-worker decided to evacuate their building, but returned to his office after a security guard assured them Tower Two was safe and secure.
Stanley reached his office just in time to catch a phone call from someone who asked him if he was watching the news. He responded that everything was fine. Then he looked up and saw an American Airlines jet heading straight for him. All he could think to do was dive under his desk, curl into a fetal position, and pray as the plane crashed about twenty feet from him and exploded. Once he got there, he said, he knew “beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord was going to take care of (him).”
Stanley saw a wing of the plane ablaze in the doorway to the offices of his department. Miraculously unhurt, he knew he needed to get out of the building, but he was trapped in rubble and could not move.
Stanley prayed fervently, asking God to spare his life and saying, “Lord, you take control. This is your problem now.” He remembers suddenly feeling like “the strongest man alive” as strength surged through his body and enabled him to shake off the debris that held him captive. He climbed over the destruction around him and dodged flickering flames saying, “Lord, I have to go home to my loved ones. I have to make it. You have to help me.”
Cut and bruised, Stanley stumbled through the dangerous remains of his office, only to realize all exits were blocked. He was trapped against a wall. He fell to his knees and began to pray again, then asked someone on the other side of the wall, “Do you know Jesus?” When the man said yes, the two of them prayed and asked God to help them break through the wall. They did, and Stanley climbed through a small hole, now able to reach the staircase of the collapsing building.
He and his new friend started down the stairs, stopping at every floor to see if anyone needed help. By the time they reached the concourse, the only people they saw were firefighters yelling, “Run! Run!”
The men wanted to run, but were surrounded by fire. If they didn’t run through the flames, they would be burned to death. They doused themselves with water under the building’s sprinkler system and darted through the flames to safety at last.
Stanley was determined to survive a life-threatening situation, but he could not do it without God’s help. While human determination is vital to never giving up, we need to remember to rely on God in every situation, never trying to “make things happen” in our own strength, but doing our part to persevere, while counting on God to bring the breakthrough we need.
I want you to know this: the enemy is really not your problem; he is God’s problem. You will waste your time if you turn your attention away from your God-given assignments and opportunities and begin to focus on the enemy. Satan knows that if he can distract you, he can ultimately defeat you. God is your defender; He promises to fight your battles for you. So when the enemy begins to stir up a storm in your life, be like Nehemiah: pray.
Next week: “A Heart And Mind To Work.”
By faith I keep pression on!