But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” (Nehemiah 6:9)
Nehemiah had mastered the practice of Stop, Drop and Pray. From the very beginning, we read how as a cupbearer to the king he hears a report about how poorly things are going in Jerusalem. What does he do? Stop, drop and pray. It is not his responsibility to do something. He is just the cupbearer. What can he do to fix the problems hundreds of miles away? What he can do is Stop, Drop and Pray.
It is a practice that he continues when faced with significant challenges. His enemies threaten, and once again in 6:9 he turns to prayer. In prayer, he receives the strength, the direction and the perseverance to keep going.
Here’s what Frederick Buechner writes in his book, Wishful Thinking:
Believe Somebody is listening. Believe in miracles. That’s what Jesus told the father who asked him to heal his epileptic son. Jesus said, “All things are possible to him who believes.” And the father spoke for all of us when he answered, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-29)
What about when the boy is not healed? When, listened to or not listened to, the prayer goes unaswered? Who knows? Just keep praying, Jesus says. …Even if the boy dies, keep on beating the path to God’s door, because the one thing you can be sure of is that down the path you beat with even your most half-cocked and halting prayer the God you call upon will finally come, and even if he does not bring you the answer you want, he will bring you himself. And maybe at the secret heart of all our prayers that is what we are really praying for. (p.71)
Stop, Drop and Pray. “Blessed are those…whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Psalm 146:5)
Today’s readings: Nehemiah 5-6; Psalm 146; Luke 24