“Please, Lord, listen attentively to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who take pleasure in showing respect to your name. Grant your servant success today and show compassion to me in the presence of this man.”
Nehemiah 1:11

In sports, professional teams often go through what is commonly referred to as a “rebuilding period.” It often follows a string of losing seasons, when teams replace veteran players with younger, inexperienced players with the hope that one day they will grow into something even better than expected. It’s a slow process that usually includes more losses for a bit, until the players have matured and proven themselves.

Life currently feels like a rebuilding season. Veteran employees at work are moving on to new things, leaving gaps and additional responsibilities while we search for replacements who can help us move to something better than we could have expected. At home, life with a pre-teen daughter means facing the loss of the little girl we’ve become used to who is quickly being replaced by a young woman, full of creativity, humor, kindness, and quite a few eye-rolls. While we’re trying to figure out our new normal of raising her to be a woman who loves God greatly, she is trying to navigate big emotions, friendships, and a lot of new experiences.

I often find myself feeling incredibly impatient in seasons like this, which inevitably brings out my Type-A, go-getter personality. I start planning. I have agendas, to-do lists, expectations about what should happen and when this rebuilding should end. I buy books to try to learn more. I listen to podcasts so I don’t feel quite so alone. I look for ways to build systems and plans to make the transitions less painful and more efficient. And then I’m surprised when it’s ineffective. 

Our reading in Nehemiah today takes us back to the beginning of our study, and gives us a beautiful picture about how a rebuilding season should really begin: with prayer. 

When Nehemiah learns that the gates around Jerusalem have been burned and the wall breached, his reaction isn’t to take matters into his own hands, or even leverage his position as the king’s cupbearer. In the face of devastating news, Nehemiah mourns, fasts, and prays. As a man of faith, Nehemiah knows that no plans of his will ever be successful unless they line up with the will of God, so he goes to God in prayer first. Prayer is not his last resort—it’s his priority.

The passage that we read today comes at the end of a lengthy prayer from Nehemiah that gives us a beautiful example of how and what to pray when we’re facing our own rebuilding season. If you’re familiar with the A.C.T.S. prayer model, Nehemiah’s prayer actually follows it well: 

Adoration: Nehemiah begins his prayer honoring God with loving, uplifting words that acknowledge God’s character and promise-keeping nature

Confession: Before asking God for anything, Nehemiah confesses not only his sins, but the sins of all Israelites, repenting and reminding God of His promise to forgive them

Thanksgiving: This one is not as obvious, but through the remembrance of who God is, what He has done, and the promises He has made, Nehemiah is praying with an attitude of gratitude

Supplication: It is not until the end of his prayer that Nehemiah asks for anything—in this case, success and compassion as Nehemiah spoke to the king about the rebuilding project.

One of our core values at work is that we value God’s plans more than our plans. When we prioritize communicating with God over our planning, God can use the gifts He has given us to do more in those rebuilding seasons than we could ever ask or imagine. On our own, we may see some success, but with God, all things are possible. 

God is not done restoring and rebuilding His people. Like Nehemiah, your faithful leadership reflects the faithful, trustworthy leadership of God. And He will be with you, every step of the way.

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Crystal Stine

Crystal Stine

Crystal Stine is the author of Holy Hustle, Quieting the Shout of Should, and the Holy Hustle Planner. She serves as the Communications and Online Director for her church and has a passion for using social media as a mission field to reach as many as possible for Christ. You can connect with Crystal online at crystalstine.me, get a sneak peek of her first books through several YouVersion reading plans, or find her on Instagram @crystalstine. Crystal lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter.

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