They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and it's gates have been burned with fire."
What horrible news to receive. You see Nehemiah was from Jerusalem. He was safe and secure in a different city when his brother came to visit him and he asked him about Jerusalem. Have you ever received horrible news and been far away from the situation? It's a really tough place to be. It can leave you with this overwhelming feeling of helplessness and defeat. Sometimes we can even be present somewhere and receive horrible news that we feel helpless about because we can't fix it immediately. This is what Nehemiah did.
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before God of Heaven.
I love how the first thing he did was sit down. I think when we are faced with horrible news are instinct is to go tell everyone. We immediately pick up the phone and tell everyone the horrible things that we just found out. I think it is really important to note that he sat down. He didn't quickly turn and start repeating (there is power of life and death in the tongue) what he had heard. He sat down.
Next he wept. It's ok to weep. It's ok to cry out to God in a situation like this where you are far away (physically or spiritually) and you feel helpless. He wept.
Finally he mourned, fasted, and prayed. When you don't know what to do and your spirit is just broken for a horrible situation; you mourn, fast, and pray. I really believe when he was doing this he was preparing himself to be able to speak to God.
Then I said: "Lord, the God of Heaven..."
It seems a little different to categorize prayer and speaking to God as two separate things. But here in this scripture I really feel like he was in such a broken and defeated place he had to fast and pray to get his heart ready to speak to God. Have you ever felt like that? I don't know if I have ever realized that I felt like that until now that I see it in scripture. There have been times in my life that horrible news has just ripped me apart and torn me away from where I was spiritually. I think in situations like that that Nehemiah's approach is the best option.
He sat down, he wept, he mourned, fasted and prayed, then he spoke to The Lord.
One last thing about this story. The scriptures don't say he did this alone specifically, but no one else is mentioned in these scriptures. Sometimes I feel like we have to sort things out with God on our own in situations like this. When we speak out right after we have been given horrible news we are upset and emotional and more than likely extremely negative. What would happen if we just sat down?. Left the world out of it. Wept. Mourned, fasted, and prayed before God alone. Then when we spoke, we spoke to The Lord, the God of Heaven.