Going forward on your knees ∙
I will go before you and make the rough places smooth. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. – Isaiah 45:2
3 “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days, I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
5 Then I said, O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,
6 listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!
7 We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.
8 Please remember what you told your servant Moses: If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations.
9 But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.
10 The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants.
11 O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” In those days, I was the king’s cupbearer.
Going Forward on Your Knees is a historical account of Hudson Taylor. As an early missionary to China, his story has inspired and uplifted untold numbers of children of the King. The book utilizes Taylor’s most famous writings and quotes. It relates how he overcame the obstacles of poor health, lack of money, and language barriers and was enabled to found the China Inland Mission.
The title comes from Hudson Taylor’s advice to Jonathan Goforth. Taylor told him that to be successful in China, Goforth needed to “go forward on your knees.”
The book emphasizes the criticality of prayer. Prayer is to be taken seriously. The Father is always at work, and He invites us to participate with Him in accomplishing His purpose on earth as it is in heaven. When children of the King “seek God’s face,” they are enabled to find the Father’s will about a matter. They then have the delight and privilege of praying it into existence.
“Maybe one of the reasons the church is not going forward today is because it’s not in a position to go forward – we are not on our knees in prayer” (Ray Prichard).
America seems to be imploding all around us. What will the Father have us do? The answer is found for us individually through prayer and prayer alone.
Nehemiah is a model of a child of the King who knew how to move forward on his knees. Upon hearing the dreadful news regarding the city of Jerusalem and its walls, he seeks the Father’s face in prayer. There is no doubt in Nehemiah’s mind that the Father wanted Jerusalem to be protected with walls and gates. He prays the Father’s will into existence.
He knows the only way to get the job done is to go through King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah was the cupbearer for Artaxerxes. He was responsible for tasting the wine before it was handed to his master drink. He was much like the king’s personal Secret Service agent. He was responsible for his safety and security regarding food and drink. Nehemiah had significant influence and frequent access to the royal presence.
Nehemiah’s prayer was heartfelt and sincere. He began by confessing his sin and the sin of his people. He reminded the Father of His promises to the nation of Israel. Then he became very specific. He prayed that the Father would move in the heart of King Artaxerxes so that he would be kind to him so that he might gain the resources and permission needed to rebuild Jerusalem’s defenses.
Nehemiah 1:11 O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” In those days, I was the king’s cupbearer.
REFLECT & PRAY
“Prayer is that slender nerve that moves the muscles of omnipotence” (Charles Spurgeon).
Father as we look at the unsettled days in which we live, we choose to seek Your face. Show us how to pray in our present circumstances that Your will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.
He began to pray in the Jewish month of Kislev, which is equivalent to November/December on our calendars (Nehemiah 1:1) . The answer did not come immediately. But it took 4 to 5 months. It was the month of Nisan, which is equivalent to March/April when the answer finally came (Nehemiah 2:1). The Father had done precisely what Nehemiah prayed for and more. Artaxerxes’ heart was turned toward Nehemiah. Artaxerxes was kind and generous and gave him everything he would need to complete the restoration of the wall and defenses of Jerusalem.
4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven,
5 I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah all that was needed to accomplish the task. He gave him a letter that was equivalent to an everything included, all-day pass to Disney World. All the building materials, rights of access and passage, and a small army to protect them.
Nehemiah made it quite clear that the Father, the living God, controlled history and the hearts of influential people.
Nehemiah 2:8 And the king granted these requests because the gracious hand of God was on me.
Nehemiah modeled effective prayer and appealing to human authority. He happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the needed proximity to a powerful human authority that would be able to accomplish the will of God.
© Dr. H 2022