Never underestimate the power of prayer. Especially prayers that last just a couple of seconds. Let me explain…
As a pastor I encourage folks to set aside a block of time each day to pray — “being still” and praying at length for themselves and interceding for others. There is great power when we do that!
But maybe just as important are the prayers we should be praying throughout the day — as we go about our day — while we are at work… at the grocery store… in the car… making phone calls… answering e-mails. These prayers don’t need to be long. But short does not mean less effective. Let me prove that point biblically.
I began reading the book of Nehemiah yesterday in my “read-the-Bible-in-a-year chronological reading plan.” A verse in chapter 2 jumped off the page. Before I share the verse, let me frame it for you.
It’s the year 444 B.C. and Nehemiah and the Jewish people are exiled slaves under the rule of the Medo-Persian Empire. About 90 years earlier (537 B.C.) some Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. While the Temple was completed in 516 B.C., the wall around Jerusalem remained rubble for the next several decades, leaving them vulnerable to attack.
Nehemiah is a slave. He is cupbearer to the king. Which basically means his job is to taste the wine first to see if it has been poisoned. If it doesn’t kill him, he passes it on to the king to enjoy. That kind of puts “having a bad day at work” into perspective, doesn’t it! 🙂
With that as the back story here is what it says in chapter 2 of Nehemiah:
In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” –Nehemiah 2:1-5 (NIV)
The result of this dialogue? The king sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem with his blessing… AND sent him with an army to ensure safe passage… AND the king financed the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem!
This is miraculous. It really is. And what made it possible? I believe the answer is found in verses 4 and 5: The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king…
The king asked Nehemiah a question. But before answering it, the text says Nehemiah prayed. It must have been a super-short prayer. Maybe lasting a second or two. After all, as a slave he couldn’t keep the king waiting. He couldn’t say, “Great question king! Can I close my eyes and pray for a few solid minutes or better yet a half hour and get back with you?”
The king asked a question. Nehemiah had to answer. So he did. But before he did… he paused… and he prayed.
And God moved a mountain as a result.
This Scripture reminded me of the power of prayer. The power of short prayers. It encouraged me to pray two-second-long prayers during my day, as I go about my day:
- for God to guide me as I type an e-mail (“Help me word this right, Lord…”)
- right before I answer the phone (“God, please give me patience…”)
- while I am in the middle of a conversation (“May everything that comes out of our mouths honor You…)
- while I am in a meeting (“Give my co-worker the words to say what they are trying to say…”)
- when I am watching the world news (“I pray for peace in Brazil…”)
- when I pick up my Bible (“Jesus, please meet me in this text…”)
Never underestimate the power of prayer. Especially prayers that last just a couple of seconds.
***Please join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. The sermon is titled Jesus Does What Jesus Did. In other words, we believe Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, right? But do we really believe that when it comes to healings and miracles? June 23. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***