Lesson 2 from Nehemiah for church communicators
Nehemiah allowed his heart to be broken over the distress of the people and the city of Jerusalem. He knew their situation had, in some ways, a rather simple solution: rebuild the walls. It was a technical, practical, manageable solution.
So what did he do? Did he draw up plans, detail a work schedule, put together a budget before going to the king? Those were logical things to do and necessary somewhere in the process, but that is not what Nehemiah did first.
First he prayed. Even more noteworthy is that he did not begin his prayers be praying for success; he began his prayer by fasting, confessing his sins, confessing the corporate sins of his people, and asking for forgiveness:
"Neh.1: 4 For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said: 'O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses."
Before he did anything else, before rushing forward with his plans, Nehemiah humbled himself before God and by confessing his sins, made himself a clean vessel for God to use.
His example is a challenge to all of us.
When was the last time you fasted and prayed over your church communications? There is something about fasting that forces us to say "no" to ourselves and that discipline alone is great preparation for church communications work. The ability to say "no" to what we want done, when and how we want it done, is a great skill for successful church communications work.
Take some time to try it. Maybe not even a whole day, maybe even just half a day. After a few years of not doing it, once again I have made it my practice to fast part or all Mondays. I find this somehow humbles my heart and refocuses my energies to serve God as I start the week.
Fasting and penitential prayer is not all Nehemiah did as he began his work for God, but it is a challenging example for all of us as we work in church communications.