Acquiring a Heart for God

Nehemiah is one person I admire for his heart for God. When he hears that the remnant of Israelites in Jerusalem are in “great distress and reproach” and “the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire” he is distressed (Nehemiah 1:3, NASB). He is not just upset about it, but rather he is sorrowful over the fall of Israel and their disobedience to God. It is a mournful heart over the situation.

When we seek to have a heart for God, we orient ourselves toward how God feels about this world. We acquire a sense of sorrow over the rejection of Jesus by people we know as well as others. We desire for them to know the peace that Christ Jesus offers, the salvation he gives. It prompts us to fall to our knees and pray for them. This is Nehemiah’s response to the news about Jerusalem: “I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven (1:4).”

Nehemiah confesses the sin of Israel: “We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses (1:7).” He recalls God’s words, His promise to Israel to return them from where they were scattered if they “return to Me and keep My commandments and do them (9).”

You can sense Nehemiah’s heartfelt desire in his prayer: “O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man (11).”

To have a heart for God is to desire what he desires. It is to pray for things that glorify His name. It is to seek His wisdom and righteousness. It is to look upon the world and feel sorrow for the sin we see, for our own sin. It is to seek His guidance on how we can play a role in bringing others to Christ Jesus.

© 2023, Chris G. Thelen

So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. – Nehemiah 4:6 (NASB)

6 thoughts on “Acquiring a Heart for God

  1. Amen! In many ways, our own journey of faith resembles Nehemiah’s. At times, we feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges and conditions. Yet, God shall provide!

    1. So true. God’s calling on our life can at times feel overwhelming. Praise God for His provision! He often equips and strengthens in unexpected ways. Thanks for your comment! Blessings.

  2. Wow. God gave me inspiration to prayer from your post, esp Neh 1.11. We are dealing with division in our church, and I am fervently praying this verse for our leaders. As you discuss, our leaders must be open to God’s leading, and humble themselves before Him. I am grateful for such leaders in our church, and in God’s church body over the world.

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