Desperate Fast

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Two-minute read.

“As soon as I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

Nehemiah 1:4

Desperate fast.

Nehemiah discovers that King Artaxerxes has ordered the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its wall to cease. When Rehum, the commanding officer, informs the king that if the “wicked city” gets rebuilt, they won’t pay taxes, tribute, or duty, which will cause the royal revenues to suffer, the king acts. Not wanting money taken from his pocket, the king issues a decree that the building stops until he says otherwise.

As King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer, Nehemiah held a trusted position in the king’s court. Fear of poisoning made the cupbearers position one of high rank, trusted to serve and pour drinks at the royal table. The king would listen to what Nehemiah said because of his position as a trusted companion. God placed Nehemiah in a strategic position, and now the Lord called His servant into action.

Nehemiah knew that God had a new job for him, one only he could do. Because of his position and training, the cupbearer could influence the king’s decision, but only with the Lord’s help. However, Nehemiah showed wisdom, not going to the king immediately but through fasting and prayer, seeking God’s counsel.

Four months passed before Nehemiah showed his sadness to the king, sharing his sorrow over the cessation of work at Jerusalem. Talk about waiting for an opportune time. I wonder how Nehemiah knew the time had come for him to talk to the king. But he did. Rockstar prayer, before Nehemiah tells the king what he wants, he yet again prays:

“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 Juday where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuilt it.” Nehemiah 2:4-5

With a whispered prayer and a bold ask, Nehemiah left his cushy palace job and entered his divine task: rebuilding Jerusalem.

Like Nehemiah, life throws us curveballs. Casual conversation led to devastating news for the cupbearer, which took Nehemiah to his knees, seeking his Maker. We have access to the same God Nehemiah did; when life presses in on us, we can do what he did: fall to our knees and seek our Maker. Who knows the conversations between Nehemiah and God during those four months? The Lord led his servant through the life-threatening circumstances and prepared Nehemiah to fulfill his calling.

Fasting and prayer in desperate situations give us direction and prepares us for whatever God wants us to do. We will fulfill our purpose by seeking the Lord and following His counsel. Wherever God guides, He provides, but to get our provisions, we must seek Him first and foremost.  

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • What situation in your life feels desperate?
  • How can fasting and prayer help you find guidance for God’s calling on your life?


Lord, thank You for your guidance and direction. As we come to You, give us the tools to persevere. When situations happen, help us turn to You first, not reacting until we get Your counsel. Make us sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and give us hearts quick to obey. Chase us down and keep us on the straight and narrow when we go astray. IJNIP. Amen

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