Sometimes God calls us to do unexpected things—perhaps life-changing, perhaps just altering a daily course. But rather than dive right into action, the right thing might be to spend time in serious, open prayer, like Nehemiah.
As the book of Ezra focused on rebuilding the Temple and learning to be faithful, so the book of Nehemiah focuses on rebuilding the walls of the city and learning to be faithful. These themes are also found in the prayers, and provide an excellent study for our own prayers when we seek renewal of our faith.
The prayers found in the book of Ezra take place during a unique time in the history of Israel: the King of Persia sends Ezra to lead a large group of Jews back to their homeland after decades of exile. They are to rebuild the Temple and restore their religious practices and worship.
In such a unique period, we might think the prayer would be so specific that they would offer us little to learn for our own prayers. But, like so many other prayers in the Bible, there are always new perspective and insights.
Why, in this story, is divorce the solution to the people’s sin? There are other passages of scripture which declare that God hates. It is the context of the story that can help us understand the prayer, the divorce, and the terrible and unintended consequences of wrongdoing.