In 445 BC, while in Babylon, Nehemiah received a report from those who had been to Jerusalem. The walls of the city were still in ruins and Nehemiah was very troubled by this. After much planning and prayer, he got up the nerve to approach the king and ask to be sent to personally oversee the rebuilding of the walls. He was a very trusted member of the king's court and the king granted his request.
Upon arrival in Jerusalem Nehemiah was greeted with opposition from the locals. He was mocked and ridiculed. He was threatened continually, yet the work progressed. Here is a portion from chapter four:
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. But when Sanballet, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammorites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (vs 6-9 NIV)Clearly Nehemiah was a man of action. He understood the relationship between prayer and hard work. Yet how many of us pray and then sit back and wait to see what God will do? Andrew Murray wisely stated that "Prayer is the power by which that comes to pass which otherwise would not take place." This is very true indeed. However, if you look through Scripture to find examples of God granting requests of the slothful you will look in vain.
Let us therefore be people of earnest prayer, but not of the type that make prayer an excuse for laziness. Come, take up a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. Together we shall be wall builders and if the good hand of God is upon us (2:8) we shall succeed!