Main Passage: Nehemiah 4
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:18-20 NIV
What’s the Deal?
People in ministry often feel like a target is painted on them. Not only that, it is on their families as well. As someone in ministry works to build up the Kingdom of God, Satan’s fiery darts hurl their way, usually at the family first, then a direct missile makes a bee-line toward the one in ministry. Unfortunately, those darts are often fired by people with faces and names. They aren’t Satan, but he uses them to do his dirty work. Those are the targets, the ones who carry Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit as they build the Kingdom. No weapon formed against these people will prosper because God goes before them. But the battle rages on fiercely as it wears down God’s. The weariness hangs heavily on them as they watch their families sustain spiritual and emotional damage. Sometimes it is too easy to lose sight of the spiritual aspect of the battle.
We eagerly begin ministry with the unrealistic notion of our ministry going smoothly. Satan likes it when we get smug in the early part of our ministry. He waits until our guard is down and we are most vulnerable, then the arrows shoot in rapid succession. At first, we don’t see it for what it truly is. Instead, we attempt to clear up misunderstandings to no avail. When the battle fiercely ensues, we are frustrated. Many give up before it really gets hot. Not only do we lay our weapon down, the Sword of the Spirit, we stop building altogether. Some of us have never asked others to partner with us in ministry to cover our backs by fighting on their knees in prayer. Even more, we often don’t even return the favor by battling on their behalf in prayer. What a great tragedy!
Nehemiah was the cupbearer for King Artexerxes, king of Persia. The Persian kingdom had taken over Israel, so many of the Israelites served Persians of influence. Nehemiah’s job was to make sure the King didn’t die from poison put in his drinks or his food. Often these servants built a relationship with those whom they served. Such was the case with Nehemiah and King Artexerxes. One day, the King noticed Nehemiah was very sad about Jerusalem being in ruin. Nehemiah shared his heart’s desire to rebuild Jerusalem when the King asked him about his obvious sadness. Because the King appreciated Nehemiah’s dedication in service, he told him to go ahead and rebuild Jerusalem, even sending supplies with him. This meant the King’s trustworthy servant would be gone for quite a while.
As the Israelites began building the city, their first order of business was to build the protective wall around the ruins of Jerusalem. At first, the enemies of Israel poked fun at their efforts. The people were happy as the wall grew half way up. Their enemies were fine poking fun at them until they saw the wall was only part way up. The battle began. As things heated up, those who built had their families with them and a sword at their side. Another man would guard them, then they swapped places. One built while the other guarded. Not only did one guard, they also handed building materials to the one doing the building. The work was difficult because of all the rubble in the way. They could no longer clear it out and build at the same time. All they could do was build. To keep the effort concentrated for safety, a trumpet would sound and they would all go to the trumpeter to work. They worked for 52 days until the city wall was done.
In our secondary passage, the Apostle Paul shared with the believers at Ephesus about the order of authority in the family and work. Interestingly, he followed this instruction with Christians were to put on the whole armor of God to overcome evil during Satan’s attacks through people. He finishes chapter 6 with instruction to pray for each other, but also requests prayers for his work in building the kingdom without fear, even though he was in prison. His imprisonment was not a simple arrest as we think of it. He was often tortured and the threat of death hovered over him like a big black cloud. The prayers of God’s people for his work was like the guard protecting the builder and his family at the wall of Jerusalem. Paul needed prayer warriors watching his back on their knees bringing petitions before the throne of God on his behalf. God would go before him as he spoke boldly about the Kingdom of God, sharing salvation through Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal life.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get busy and forget to pray for other writers, my pastors, and even my prayer team. Does this happen to you? God gently prompts me to pray when I see an email or online post. I send out prayer team letters for my faithful group to pray for me, my husband, and the work I am doing for the Lord. I also get prayer letters and requests from others in ministry.
All this would simply be hopefulness if we neglected to do two things: make sure our family relationships are rock solid and we take God’s Word with us to use as our weapon against Satan. Since my second marriage is still young, it has been a priority for us to purposely set aside time together to talk, appreciate each other, and read the Bible and pray together. A while ago, I made the mistake of engaging in some skirmishes that came my way without using appropriate Bible passages to counter. Boy, I don’t do that anymore! God gives us ways to endure the fiery arrow strikes on our own, but He also wants have their houses in order and His children to support each other in prayer. The Kingdom of God grows better and stronger this way.
Are you in ministry, either vocationally or voluntarily? It is important that your household is in order as described in Ephesians 5. Keep your Sword with you at all times by memorizing Bible passages. Gather prayer warriors together for your prayer team. Communicate with them regularly about what God is doing through your ministry. Then field prayer requests from them and pray. Even the shield bearers get hit. Satan doesn’t want them before the throne of God any more than he wants your ministry to make a difference in people’s lives.
Not in ministry? Try gathering the names and information of the missionaries your church supports. Make a prayer wall with them. Add in your pastor and family, include associate and youth pastors, too. Find out who has a personal ministry like volunteering at the homeless shelter or pregnancy resource center. Gather names of Christians in the news and put them on your prayer wall. Pray daily for them and write updates. Share your prayer requests with them, too. They want to pray for you. As you see God answer prayers, your faith is strengthened.
May God bless you!