Nehemiah's Prayerful Leadership Pause

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. — Nehemiah 1:4

Spiritual leaders know how to differentiate useless activity from critical activity. When Nehemiah heard the troubling news, he didn't react by calling a meeting, starting a protest, rallying supporters, posting on social media, or designing a leadership plan. Instead, he chose to "sit down, weep, mourn, fast, and pray." Five preliminary actions that almost seem opposed to action. Five activities that most leaders fail to do. And here is why they don't do these five things — they want to be the hero. They believe they can fix a problem without God.

But god-fearing leaders understand three things that other leaders do not. First, God is sovereignly acting in every circumstance. Second, that man's sin is always at play. Third, no man is innocent; therefore, we must bear responsibility. Thus, Nehemiah knew the tragedy and solution were bigger than him, so he went first to God.

Leadership always begins with submitting ourselves to God, who is the only leader. Prayer is where a spiritual leader relies on God over himself. Prayer is where leaders become emotionally honest. Prayer is where leaders align with God’s will rather than exerting their will. Prayer provides a leader with a divine perspective. Prayer brings a leadership pause for all this to occur.

But here's the clincher. This is not a momentary pause of prayer. Nehemiah did not just do this one time. He did this multiple times daily for about four months — from the month of Chislev (Nehemiah 1:1) to the month of Nisan (Nehemiah 2:1).

I don't know about you, but this is super convicting for me. Because when I pray, I want an immediate answer. I want to pray once and then expect an answer. But that's not what Nehemiah did. He's not naming and claiming something here. He is petitioning God in mourning, sadness, confession, going without food, and making God the focus of every prayer for an extended period of time.

Let me ask you this: When was the last time you prayed like this? When was the last time you prayed for one thing for four months?

So, since it will take us about that period of time to get through this book, I want you to nail down one thing you want to pray about for a prolonged period of time. Write it in your scripture journal, and let's "sit down, weep, mourn, fast, and pray" together. And let's take some time to learn how to follow the great and only leader, who is God.

Over the next few days, we will dive a little deeper into the four C.O.R.E. elements of Nehemiah's prayer that brought him before the great, mighty Leader of leaders.

  1. Connecting With God.
  2. Owning Our Sin.
  3. Recalling God’s Faithfulness.
  4. Entrusting Our Plans.


Nehemiah’s story emphasizes leadership, beginning with self-leadership towards God. Discuss or contemplate how this principle applies in your life or in the lives of leaders you admire. Can you think of instances where leaders demonstrated reliance on God rather than on their own strength? How did this impact their decision-making, approach to challenges, and influence on others?

Reflect on your own prayer life in comparison to Nehemiah's approach. How does your reaction to challenges differ from Nehemiah's extended prayer and fasting practice? Consider the last significant challenge you faced. How might your response have changed if you had adopted Nehemiah’s approach of "sitting down, weeping, mourning, fasting, and praying" for an extended period?

DO THIS: Write out a single prayer you want to pray for four months (you can do that below in the comment section).

PRAY THIS: Father, teach me to embrace the humility and patience of Nehemiah, seeking Your guidance through prayer and fasting and relying on Your wisdom and timing in every aspect of my life and leadership. Help me remember that true strength and direction come from surrendering to Your will rather than relying solely on my abilities and plans. Amen.

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31 thoughts on “Nehemiah’s Prayerful Leadership Pause

  1. John Schroeder says:

    I will be praying like Nehemiah for the next several months. My prayer is that my wife and I can set family goals together. Lord please help us to find a hobby, a ministry and/or a project which we can do together. Lord also please give her energy and enthusiasm to enjoy life. In the name of Jesus, Amen

    • Joe says:

      I would like to echo this prayer request and also add my son and his family in to come to know and accept God.
      Please bring some like minded Christians into our life as well to strengthen our walk.

    • Nick McGuirk says:

      Same thing going on at my house! God give me strength and motivation to pray for and get to know my family again so that we can serve you and each other together!

      • John Schroeder says:

        Thanks Nick. With God, anything is possible! Our personalities, habits may seem challenging but maybe the Holy Spirit has an answer. Let’s keep praying!

  2. John Comstock says:

    Gracious Master, I pray that I slow down and analyze situations better than what I have been doing lately. I tend to get nervous and act in the way I shouldn’t be doing. Teach me to perform my work duties through your Spirit, and help me calm my co-workers down when situations arise. It’s in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

  3. Keith Michael Thompson says:

    My Prayer is as follows

    Father I need you to reach out and touch the hearts of my Wife Michelle and our Children Natasha, Jonathon, Daniel, Scarlett, Imogen, Benjamin and Alex. let them know your love and Peace. remove the stress from our family for a son that is doing what ever he can to destroy our family. Give me the strength and Knowledge to lead through this time.

  4. gonzalo correa says:

    Wonderful message today brother Vince!
    I’m praying for my marriage, my walk with the Lord to get closer and better, for my church family and for direction on future moving decisions.

  5. Dennis James says:

    My prayers is the walls of resistance come down that are put up by churches here in Las Vegas to allow our ministry in to minister to the addicted, those struggling with trauma and mental health issues so that we may help carry the burden placed upon pastors. I pray that we can help be a light to those struggling emotionally. The church needs to address the mental health crisis within the body of Christ.

  6. Eddie says:

    God, thank You for Your patience. My stubbornness gets in the way of hearing from You, but loud and clear, daily it seems, You are reminding me to be patient with people in my house who are not patient, be responsible as an example to the people in my house that are not responsible, and be loving to the people in my house that are not outwardly loving. I need to lead by example and imitate Jesus by showing compassion, not judgement, towards people that the world is all too happy to quickly judge, and I have been too. Now that the potatoes have been discussed, the meat of my prayer is this:

    God, please soften my heart to the hurting people my wife and I have invited to live in our house with us. Work through my wife and I to keep the peace in our house and allow these hurting people room to grow as adults and closer to You as well. Amen.

  7. David says:

    Today’s message really resonated with me.
    My prolonged prayer is to bring God and His Word into my relationship with my wife each and every day.
    Thank you Vince and the prayer team for teaching the Word of God!

    • David Josker says:

      I share the same prayer with David. That my relationship with my wife and daughter would include more of God and his word each and everyday. I am beyond blessed, Lord thank you for all you do. Thank you to Vince and all the folks in this devotional. You are all making a difference in people’s lives. God Bless you all!

  8. Ryan says:

    I was recently asked by my pastor to consider the possibility that God is calling me and my wife to plant a church. That would be a major change in our lives. It is no coincidence that I have been challenged to pray for about something for an extended period of time. I want to be certain about God’s calling on my life, my wife, and our family.

  9. David B. Hayes says:

    The prayer I need is to help me with some financial stability. My wife has been placed in a Nursing Home , and I now have to live on my own and budget my needs and finances.

  10. Robert Hughes says:

    I pray for my son, Josh. He is not fighting his addiction on alcohol he has settled on his addiction. He will not hear God’s word for change and is completely settled with his addiction. I have committed to pray that God will intervene in his heart for healing both spiritually and physically.

  11. Jesse says:

    Praying for my health to get better with MS & Seizures and for the next 4 months the classes I’ll be taking will help me grow into a wiser & better decision making person with great results. A man of God, All In!

  12. Eric says:

    I pray for a restored relationship with my 16 year old daughter who has adopted the worldly ways of seeing things, and has isolated herself from us both physically and emotionally.

  13. Dave says:

    I am going to pray for my brother who walked away from his faith in God 36 years ago. A prayer to bring another prodigal home.

  14. Trent says:

    I may not reply to all on here but all should know I will be adding you to my list and praying with you as long as I can maintain my focus and memory to do so.

  15. Trent says:

    This is great stuff and I T Totally am on board. If I may be so bold as, and be permitted, to add (not to the word but to the challenge so to speak) a small peace ( not a type o, a play on words. Do you see it???) to it that I personally need to focus on, it would be this…See I been diligently praying for many months for a few trials in my family life. I pray. Oh boy do I weep. I have fasted. And I have also been….wait for it…..frustrated and cranky. I personally feel I need to add a bit more faith to my equation and trust God to handle it in His time and way. Be patient as Vince advises. I need to be praising God now for the opportunity to even approach Him with my prayer and for His faithfulness to handle it. This I believe shall add some peace (see it now?) to my life. Allow more joy to enter my heart. And more praise (rather than belly aching) to flow from my lips. Thank you for the opportunity to share. I pray it speaks to someone as typing it sure spoke to me. I encourage all readers to share as it often times ministers to others in ways we would not be able to see before and sometimes not after. But it does. God bless your day brothers and sisters. Mine has been already. Praise God. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Holy Spirit

  16. Ryan Neith says:

    After yesterday’s devo I was thinking while driving to work about what I should pray about for a period of time. My mind began to wonder, thinking about all the blessings in my 61 years. Then the Holy Spirit said,”finish well”. It sent chills through me. That is my prayer. And to listen for what that looks like in my life.

    • Larry Yurko says:

      Brother Ryan , sounds like you are on the right path of “finishing well” as you are in prayer and seeking His devine calling on your life !

      I wanted to merely encourage you to continue on His path, seeking Him daily in prayer and being obedient in action! We know not the time nor day but rest in knowing our eternal home awaits.

      Live ALL IN –

    • Vince Miller says:


      We come before You today with hearts full of gratitude for the abundant blessings You have bestowed upon Ryan in his 61 years. Your grace has guided him, Your love has strengthened him, and Your wisdom has been his constant companion on his journey.

      Lord, a profound phrase whispered by Your Holy Spirit resonates deeply within Ryan’s heart: “Finish well.” These words send chills through him, igniting a desire to live out his remaining years in a manner that honors You and manifests the fullness of Your purpose for his life.

      We pray, Father, for the wisdom for Ryan to understand what it means to “finish well” in his own life. Teach him to cherish each day as a precious gift from You, using it to glorify Your name. Help him to recognize and seize the opportunities You place before him to demonstrate Your love, share Your Word, and serve Your people.


  17. Troy Theye says:

    My one prayer request is 2 Fold-Health and Finances. Praying in one area will support the other.

    • Trent says:

      A prayer shared by many. And one added to my prayer list for you. Feel free to add some detail if I can be praying more specifically. Of not that is fine too. God knows the details already and has the situation in His hands.
      Lord I pray now for Troys health. I know it is a burden now or he would not reach out to strangers about it. I pray you would handle His health. I pray you bless him for reaching out to brothers as we are instructed to do in your word. I pray you would give him strength and peace and patience as he goes through this trial. I pray he would see you working that he would grow closer to you because of it and that your kingdom be furthered and your name glorified as a result. I pray that you provide for his needs which in this world is much related to finances. Lord I pray he have what he needs and that you put your people close to him in his path to minister to all these needs. Thank you Lord for Troys life, for his devotion to you, and for the chance to uplift one another. Amen

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