By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. — Nehemiah 4.9
I would hold this prayer up as a pattern for our prayers in a like condition. It was a prayer that meant business. Sometimes, when we pray, I am afraid that we are not transacting business at the throne of grace; but Nehemiah was as practical in his prayer as he was in the setting of the watch.
Some brethren get up in our prayer-meetings, and say some very good things; but what they really ask for, I am sure I do not know. Oh, for more definiteness in prayer! I am afraid our prayers are often clouds, and we get mists for answers. Nehemiah’s prayers meant business. I wish we could always pray in this way.
Notice, next, that it was a prayer that came before anything else. It does not say that Nehemiah set a watch, and then prayed; but “nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch.” Prayer must always be the fore-horse of the team.
Do whatever else is wise, but not till you have prayed. Send for the physician if you are sick; but first pray. Take the medicine; but first pray. Go and talk with the man who has slandered you, if you think you ought to do so; but first pray. Do not begin it until you have prayed. Begin, continue, and end everything with prayer; but especially begin with prayer.
I gather from the words before me that it was a prayer saturated with faith. “We made our prayer unto—God”? No, “unto our God.” They had taken Jehovah to be their God, and they prayed to him as their God.
They had a full assurance that, though he was the God of the whole earth, yet he was specially their God; and so they made their prayer unto the God who had given himself to them, and to whom they belonged by covenant relationship.
The door of prayer seems to turn on those two golden hinges—“our God.” If you and I are to be delivered from the evil that is in the world, if we are to be kept building the church of God, we must have for our first guard, mighty, believing prayer, such as Nehemiah and his friends presented unto the Lord.
*Abridged and language updated from Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s sermon, The Two Guards, Praying And Watching, delivered July 24th, 1890.