What Would You Request?
Nehemiah 2:4-8, “Then the king said to me, ‘What would you request?’…I said to the king, ‘If it please the king,…send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it…let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah…and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates…And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.”
Nehemiah had just been handed a blank check. His mind raced with the possibilites. Unlimited. Unimaginable. Unbelievable. An exiled slave found himself standing before the most powerful man in the world. And he was being handed a blank check. All Nehemiah had to do was just fill in the amount. In that moment four long months of fasting and prayer were consumated in a brief five second cry for divine help. Nehemiah heard the king’s question, lifted a prayer to heaven, and responded with a boldness that comes only from time spent in the presence of God. Note Nehemiah’s response. The essence of his request should be a challenge to each of us. Nehemiah asked for:
- Purpose. This man who had spent years as the king’s cupbearer asks that he may now be commissioned as the King’s servant. The news regarding Jerusalem had broken his heart. Four months of prayer had prepared his spirit. Nehemiah was ready. Ready to leave the safety and security of the palace. Ready to leave the routine of his “job” as king’s cupbearer. Ready to leave behind his meaningless existence and embrace a greater destiny. Nehemiah longed for a purpose beyond his daily experience. God had given him a burden and he was willing to risk everything if it meant he could fulfill it.
- Protection. Nehemiah appealed to the king for intervention. “Grant me authority to fulfill this newly discovered purpose.” Send me forth with your word as a safeguard against the plans and attacks of those who would oppose. Nehemiah understands that there will be both people and forces that will seek to stand in the way and undermine the purposes of God. And so he asks the king to prepare the way before him. “Now that I have this vision, let your word go before me to prevent the interference of those who would fight against this work.”
- Provision. This is not a selfish request for personal blessing. His preeminent longing is to see the walls and gates of the city rebuilt. “Grant me the necessary tools and equipment to complete this work.” Note that this request comes from one who has nothing to contribute himself…nothing except himself, that is. And now, having given himself fully to the work, he appeals to the king for provision to fulfill the work.
Purpose. Protection. Provision. Wow! That is some request. What boldness! But what is even more amazing than Nehemiah’s request is the king’s response. The king gave him everything he asked for that day. Why? Because God’s hand of favor was resting upon Nehemiah’s life. God’s favor made purpose, protection and provision possible for his servant.
You know, the same holds true for each of us. Just like Nehemiah we find ourselves standing before a King. We have burdens. We have prayed. And we have nothing to contribute except the offering of our own lives. Everything else that is required has to come from Him. I can create work but unless it finds it’s source in Him it will never grant purpose. I can stand against the forces of opposition in my life but unless I have His word they will never give way. I can labor to take care of my needs but unless He commands I will never have enough. All that I need, all that I want can only be found in one Person. Jesus is that person. Jesus is my purpose. Jesus is my protection. Jesus is my provision. As I enter the second half of my life the one thing I long for is His favor. I want the good hand of my God to rest upon my life. Not for my own selfish benefit. No, that’s not it at all. I want to know His favor so that His work in my life might be fulfilled. That’s my request.