Memo 1016: GodSpeak
We are in the homestretch of our series examining how to unlock the power of our faith. It's remarkable how many stories we have looked at from the Old Testament, which is not usually a handbook for faith principles and lessons. This week, let's look at another Old Testament hero by the name of Nehemiah, whose unlocked faith rebuilt a city. You may wish to read the first few chapters or the entire book of Nehemiah before you proceed.
Nehemiah was the king's attendant but one day came into his presence and was not his usual self:
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?" (Nehemiah 2:1-3).
Nehemiah was mourning the condition of Jerusalem, his hometown, and had been praying and crying out to God for a way to rebuild it. Notice that while Nehemiah was a bold prayer warrior, he was still afraid when the king asked him the reason for his demeanor. Faith never has to exist in perfection. For example, a child's father said to Jesus, "I do believe. Help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). You can have faith and doubt or fear existing in the same spiritual garden and the faith still be effective. In this case, Nehemiah had faith but he was afraid that his role or life would be in danger due to his sadness while on duty. Then the king asked another question: “What is it you want?” (Nehemiah 2:4a).
At that point, Nehemiah didn't go into what I refer to as GodSpeak. He didn't say, "Well, I'm not saying what I want is God's will and I don't want you to feel pressure, Oh King, if you don't resonate with what I am going to say. I could be wrong, but I think, maybe, sort of, that God has laid something on my heart but I am willing to withdraw my request if you think it's off base. Or maybe I didn't hear correctly." Instead, Nehemiah responded with clarity and specificity:
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.”Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me (Nehemiah 2:4b-9).
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN
If the King asked you, "What is it you want?", what would you say? Would you him-haw around, stumbling over your words because you didn't want to appear greedy or self-serving? Would you kick into GodSpeak mode uttering such religious foolishness as "Well, this may be me and not You, Lord, and I don't want to miss or get ahead of You so maybe, sort of, you know, I would like You to provide the money for my education, or car, or missions trip. However, do it in Your time and I won't ask again. In Jesus' name." That's not how to unlock the power of your faith.
If you are going to unlock a door, you need a specific key, not just any key. If you are going to unlock a safe, you need the right combination, not just any series of numbers. I want ministry opportunities to share the purpose message with as many people as possible. I want funds to operate one of the best relief and development agencies in Kenya. I want a best-selling book that causes people to smile when they read it. What do you want? Can you clearly state it and marinate it in your faith?
Nehemiah prayed, developed a plan, and then interceded with the king for everything he needed—and the king complied. Now it's time for you to appear before your King and be as specific as Nehemiah was, even if you are fearful and have doubts. Perhaps God is not answering your prayers because they are too vague, bogged down in the slog of GodSpeak. If so, it's time to get specific if you are serious about unlocking the power of your faith. Have a blessed week.