Have you ever witnessed sorrowful circumstances in someone’s life that brought you to your knees? Sometimes it’s not our own troubles that weigh most heavily on us, but rather the needs of loved ones that make us cry out to God and long to experience His comfort and direction.
When Nehemiah heard that his people lived in great distress and that the walls of Jerusalem lay in ruins, its gates burned and broken, he responded with prayer:
I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, “I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night.” (Neh. 1:4–6)
Nehemiah was experiencing a prayer burden.
A prayer burden can be defined as a strong motivation to pray for others and to carry the needs of others before God in prayer until He responds.
The Bible has a great deal to say about burdens. We are to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Likewise, we are to go the second mile in helping another person (Matt. 5:41). Much of our ability to overcome hardship is derived from developing our ability to carry spiritual burdens in prayer.
A sense of spiritual weight usually accompanies a prayer burden—a heaviness of heart, a spirit of mourning, or a feeling of restlessness. We can’t seem to shift ourselves away from a problem or need that has come to our attention.
This is what happened with Nehemiah. He prayed in faith that God would restore Jerusalem, and the Lord answered his prayer by sending him to the city to lead the effort of rebuilding the wall.
James 5:16 promises, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” If you feel burdened to pray for another person, commit yourself to wholehearted intercession, filled with thanksgiving and praise that God will act on that person’s behalf (Phil. 4:6, 7). Then listen and obey because the Father may work through you to provide His answer.
And like Nehemiah, you will be greatly blessed when you see God doing mighty things in response to your prayers.
Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org