Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Method or The Man? Nehemiah 2:5

There was once a story of a man who tried to weigh a prayer. The man owned a small store, it was just a week before Christmas right after World War I. A tired-looking woman came into the store and asked for enough food to make a Christmas dinner for her children. The grocer asked her how much money she had. “My husband did not come back; he was killed in the War, and I have nothing to offer but a little prayer.”, was her reply. The storekeeper was not a very sentimental man, nor was he religious in any way, so mockingly he said to her “Well then, write it on paper, and I will weigh it.” To his surprise the woman took a piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to the man saying, “ I wrote this during the night while watching over my sick baby.” The grocer snagged the little prayer out of her hand and with a smug smile placed the unread paper on the scale. To his utter amazement, and those around him, as he began to pile on food the scale would not go down. He became angry and flustered, he finally said, “Well, that’s all the scale will hold, here’s a bag; you’ll have to put it in yourself. I’m too busy.” Weeping the woman filled the bag, expressed her thanks and left. Later, when the store was empty, the grocer examined the scales, to find that they had indeed been broken, and that they had broken just as the widow had came in. He then opened up the tiny paper and on it was written, “Give us this day, our daily bread.”
Just like that woman, Nehemiah was a man of prayer. Nehemiah has gotten a burden for his homeland after he received a report that the walls of his beloved Jerusalem lie in ruins. His burden is real, but his actions are interesting. He prays, Nehemiah 2:4 says, “Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Nehemiah was not a man of action in the sense we think about today. Upon hearing the report of Jerusalem, he didn’t just organize a group a go over there. Today we hear buzz words like, “he’s a man of action. .” or “he’s real motivated. “ What we should be hearing is “he’s a man of prayer.”
John 1:6 states, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” That was the cry the made the announcement that Christ was on the earth. God’s plan is to make much of the man, more of him that anything else. God still uses men to do his work. What the church needs today is not better methods, or better organizations, or more machinery to carry out God’s command to give the gospel to every creature. What God needs are men and women who the Holy Spirit can use, men and women of prayer. E. M. Bounds said it best, “ The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but men. He does not come down on machinery but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men-men of prayer.”
Nehemiah when presented with a burden prayed first. How often to we pray? Even as a preacher I find that my prayer life is small, too small for the important work that God has given me to do. Nehemiah built the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days, though he had trials from within and opposition from without. He did not accomplish that by being a good manager, or a man of action, but by a man of prayer. E. M. Bounds once said, “Man is God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.”

No comments: