Practice Prayer

Practice Prayer

The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.
–Proverbs 21:1

How do you handle a difficult boss or anyone who is an obstacle in your life? Nehemiah gave us six principles for handling difficult people. First of all, practice prayer. Nehemiah was a Jewish believer, but he served a pagan king named Artaxerxes. The king had one goal in mind: to protect and to expand his kingdom. Nehemiah knew that the chances of Artaxerxes granting him permission to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall were between slim and none. He knew the only way that this was going to change would be if God did something in Artaxerxes’s heart. So the first thing Nehemiah did was pray that God would change Artaxerxes’s heart.

A. J. Gordon has written, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” You might be facing a very difficult circumstance in your life. It may be a financial problem. It may be the need for a job. It may be a health issue that you are confronting. You are doing everything you can to solve that problem on your own–consulting this person, checking with that doctor, asking for help here, asking for help there. With all of the frantic activity you are engaged in to try to solve this problem in your life, let me ask you: How much time are you spending in prayer about this problem? The truth is, there are a lot of things you can do after you pray, but you can do nothing until you have prayed.

Nehemiah understood that. He prayed, “Make your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man” (Nehemiah 1:11). Artaxerxes was not a believer; he was a pagan. But Nehemiah so believed in the power of God that he believed God could work even in the heart of Artaxerxes. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Whoever is standing in the way of your God-given dream–that person’s heart is in God’s hands to turn whichever way He desires. In fact, the Bible is filled with examples of God working through pagan kings. A hundred years before Artaxerxes, God had miraculously moved in the heart of King Cyrus of Persia to let the first group of Jews go back to Jerusalem. Hundreds of years after Nehemiah, God would move in the heart of a pagan Roman emperor named Caesar Augustus. Augustus determined one day that there needed to be more tax revenue, and that meant everyone had to register to be taxed. Little did Augustus know that his decision would cause a young couple named Joseph and Mary to travel to this nondescript town called Bethlehem and give birth to the Savior of the world. That was God moving in Augustus’s heart. Nehemiah believed God could move in Artaxerxes’s heart as well, so he prayed. If you are facing a difficult person in your life, the first thing to do is pray.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How To Handle A Difficult Boss” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

A. J. Gordon, as quoted in Ben Patterson, “Deepening Your Conversation With God: Learning To Love To Pray” (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2001), 20.

Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.