Have you ever had a situation in your life that required real thoughtful prayer and action?
The “Bobby” Dilemma
When I was ten I faced one of those situations. I had been in a “relationship” with Donny Osmond for at least three years and I was still carrying around my metal Bobby Sherman lunch box. This situation had to change and the solution was simple, I had to have a “Donny” lunch box.
“Bobby” presented me with a lot of problems. First, I was totally betraying Donny by even owning the “Bobby” lunch box. Second, I was committing a huge fashion faux pas by carrying “Bobby” around the halls of Wilson Elementary; it just wasn’t done! Third, my integrity was being questioned because no one believed I was a true fan while I still continued to haul “Bobby” to school every day. Something had to be done about this situation and it had to be done now!
I went to my mother and father and explained my dilemma for the tenth time. I played out all the scenes for them. I told them about the mocking. I told them about the looks I got and the hushed tones in the cafeteria as I put “Bobby” on the lunch table every day. My father told me to go and get “Bobby”. Finally, I thought; he gets it! He realizes the situation I am in. My dad held “Bobby” up and carefully examined him. Here it comes I thought, no longer will I be the lunch pariah of Wilson Elementary!
Well, he gave me the old “money-doesn’t-grow-on-trees” and “we all have to make sacrifices” speech. I begged and pleaded to try to persuade him until I pushed it. His final comment was; “There is nothing wrong with “Bobby” and you are going to use him until there is.”
Prayer and Action
I prayed that night for a way to convince my dad that “Bobby” was going to have to go if he wanted me to survive the fifth grade. Then the solution came to me! Tomorrow I was going to take some action! The next day “Bobby” went to school with me. At the end of the day when the school bus pulled up to my stop, “Bobby”…well he went right out the bus window. Then to finish him off, I kicked “Bobby” all the way to my house. When my dad got home for dinner that night, I slammed “Bobby” down on the dining room table and I made my final comment; “Now there is something wrong with Bobby.”
I had something wrong with me that night because corporal punishment was very popular in the 70’s. My dad made me throw “Bobby” in the trash. While I slept on my stomach that night I knew the bottom line was (no pun intended) I was getting that “Donny” lunch box.
I realized the next morning that my dad’s lesson wasn’t quite over yet. Sitting on the dining room table right where “Bobby” had sat the night before was my lunch in a paper bag with “Donny” written on the front. I did have all the steps correct. I had prayed and then I had taken action. I guess I left out the “thoughtful” part.
Nehemiah-His Thoughtful Prayer and Action
Nehemiah really had the steps right. He had heard some terrible news while he was in Persia. His beloved hometown of Jerusalem had been destroyed 150 years ago and his people the Jews were not having much success at rebuilding it.
Nehemiah’s first step was to go to God in thoughtful prayer. He confessed the sins of his people, his petition to God was unselfish, and his prayer was based on the promises that God had made to the Israelites if they truly turned back to Him. “And I said: “I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer.” Nehemiah 1:5-11.
Nehemiah knew that the only way he would gain permission from the King to return to Jerusalem, was if God intervened and he was right! The King gave Nehemiah permission to go. Now, this seems like a very lofty prayer; “God, use me to rebuild your city”, but God heard Nehemiah’s thoughtful prayer and He knew his heart. He knew that Nehemiah’s motives were not selfish ambition. He wanted to help his people and bring honor to God.
God moved the heart of the King of Persia and He used Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16.