If you attend a local church, you may have an opportunity to nominate and elect men to serve in leadership positions like elder or deacon. It’s nearing that time at my church and as my pastor spoke about it last week, the first thing he said was that we were searching for “men of prayer” to serve.

What a thing to list as the first qualifications for leadership in our churches. And yet how often to do we neglect what prayer really means in our lives? When we consider prayer as a one way call to God to let him know about what we need, we reduce prayer something so much less than it could and is is intended to be. Nehemiah is a great example of what it means to be a man (or person) of prayer. So what can we learn from Nehemiah?

Before undertaking anything, give it to God in prayer.

When Nehemiah heard about the condition of his homeland while serving in the court of a foreign king, he brought his heartbreak to God.  In fact, he spent days before God as he “mourned and fasted and prayed” (Nehemiah 1:4). He begged God to remember His people and give Nehemiah success in pursuing the rebuilding in Jerusalem.

A man of prayer knows his broken state.

In the same prayer where Nehemiah was fasting and mourning, he also confessed his wrong-doing to God. In verse 6 of chapter 1, he said, “I confess the sings we Israelites including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you.” There’s was nothing that Nehemiah had done that could convince God to help him. He knew that, and yet even in his lowly brokenness, he came before God to ask for his help, in spite of his sin.

Prayer doesn’t equal inaction.  

Sometimes we tell others to “commit it to God in prayer.” And what we mean is, “pray about it and stop doing anything.” Admittedly, we can often make things worse when we try to handle it on our own instead of waiting for God.  But just because we’re praying about it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be busy while we wait. When the Israelites were being threatened with attacks while rebuilding the wall, Nehemiah said, “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” (Neh. 4:9)

Are we ready to give everything to God? Are we ready to repent before God? Are we ready to wait and God while still doing what He has called us to do? If you are ready to be a person of prayer whose trust is in God, then get really ready. Because you never know what God will do in, through, and around you when you pray.