Nehemiah held an honored position in the court of King Artaxerxes. He was the king’s cupbearer, so he was constantly in the presence of the King. When the King noticed the countenance of Nehemiah as being contrary to what he was used to, he asked Nehemiah what was troubling him:
2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,
3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.
6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Nehemiah 2:2-6 (KJV)
Nehemiah took a bold step in unloading his heart to the king – but only after prayer. We see that Nehemiah’s first line of defense when faced with any and every situation is to pray. The second thing we notice in the above passage is that Nehemiah was a man who walked in humility. He knew what he needed done was an enormous request, but he took courage and asked for what he needed, giving respect to the authority who could grant him that request. It is often said that when you come before great and powerful men, know what you want to ask them for they want an answer if a very few minutes, no fancy dialogue to try to get on their good side, come straight to the point! The King granted Nehemiah his request and even more besides, for he also provided the resources he needed to re-build the wall.
We can also walk in this kind of favor. It is usually not given the first day or the second of a relationship – it comes from doing a good job, consistently walking with integrity and humility. And above all, it sure doesn’t hurt our case to pray to the God of heaven who put the mission in our heart.