In the month of Nisan . . .

20150319_090900On Tuesday morning our minister led the staff devotion on just five little words. Those five little words are of great significance. Those five little words teach us something about patience and perseverance. Those five little words tell us something about prayer and fasting. Those five little words are ‘in the month of Nisan’ and they come from Nehemiah 2:1. Why are they significant? Because of Nehemiah 1:1 – ‘in the month of Kislev.’ Nehemiah received some distressing news about his fellow countryman in Jerusalem – they were in ‘trouble and disgrace’ (Neh 1:3). As a result Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted and prayed before God (v. 4). Nehemiah prays that God would be favourable toward Israel (1:5-10). Nehemiah approaches his boss, King Artaxerxes, asking permission to leave for Jerusalem that he might help rebuild it (2:3-5). The King says yes and resources him for the work (2:4-9). Nehemiah’s prayer is answered because the hand of the Lord was upon him (2:8). But the striking thing for the attentive reader is that the answer to Nehemiah’s prayer came ‘in the month of Nisan’ (2:1). Nehemiah had been weeping, mourning, fasting and praying for four months. Over that time, in spite of the fasting, he’d managed not to look to bad at work (2:1). Nehemiah had persevered not just for an hour of prayer, or a few successive days, or a couple of good prayer meetings. Nehemiah had been praying fervently and passionately for months. How quickly do we get discouraged when we pray a little bit harder than normal and God doesn’t seem to do anything? Of course God isn’t a slot maching – it’s not the case that if we pray long enough and hard enough he’s bound to answer our prayers. But Nehemiah teaches us something about passion, fervency, and persistence in prayer – qualities that I suspect, for most of us, are all to often lacking.

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