Ask Boldly | Nehemiah 1-2

Welcome to Real Life. I’m amazed by those who ask boldly.

“Buď tak dobre . . .” my mother would begin in Slovak and then pause with a mischievous grin. We knew what was coming. Translation: Be so good as to . . . Mom was about to beg a favor. She wasn’t shy about asking. Anita told me this anecdote at her funeral.
“Once I called for your sister. Your mom told me she wasn’t home. But then she asked me to come over and drive her to Bingo. Of course, I couldn’t refuse your mom.”
I thought of Mom as I read Nehemiah. He, too, made bold requests, though a bit more serious than a ride to Bingo. His story begins with sad news. A group just returned from Jerusalem. Nehemiah asks for an update. They give this report.
“Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”[1]
Stunned, Nehemiah sits and weeps. For days, he mourns, fasts, and prays.

Nehemiah is cupbearer to Artaxerxes, king of the Israelites in exile. As Nehemiah serves, the king notices his sad countenance and cares enough to ask about it.

Terrified, Nehemiah breathes a prayer and begins, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

“What is it you want?” asks the king.

Zealous for his homeland, his people, and his God, Nehemiah goes for broke, “Send me to Jerusalem to rebuild it.”

“How long will you be gone?”

Nehemiah knows the project will require heavy political and financial support. So, he boldly asks, “Please provide letters of protection and sufficient lumber to complete the project.”

The king agrees! He also sends a military guard to protect his cupbearer.

I’m impressed by Nehemiah’s boldness. Don’t miss this. Nehemiah isn’t cocky. He’s terrified as he begs the king’s assistance. If he displeased the king, Artaxerxes could have him banished, imprisoned, or executed. Instead, Nehemiah hits the Jerusalem jackpot.

Have you received bad news—the kind that makes you sit and weep? I have. A seriously ill sister, a loved one battling addiction, a friend in pain. When I come before my King and God, do I ask boldly? It feels presumptuous, even proud to do so. Let’s examine Nehemiah’s request.
  • Nehemiah prepares. Before asking, he prays, fasts, and repents. Do we take the time to desperately seek God?
  • Nehemiah is selfless. He asks for his nation and his God. Then, he's willing to leave his cushy job and go do the work. Are we selfless? Willing to go and do?
  • Finally, Nehemiah asks boldly. Knowing God’s will gives him confidence. Are we asking in accordance with God’s will?
God placed Nehemiah in a strategic position—cupbearer to the king—to fulfill his will. You and I hold strategic positions as well. Our Father is King of Kings. He invites us to boldly approach his throne of grace.

We needn’t begin, as Mom did, “Be so good as to . . .” We know our God is good. Let’s ask boldly. Then, be willing to go and do.

Our Lord and King,
Much closer than cupbearer,
We are your daughters and sons.
You know us, love us, and see our every burden.
We bring them to you, dear Lord. Please help, heal, set free.
Give us willing hearts and strong hands to go and do your work.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Is your heart burdened? I'd be glad to pray for you. Leave me a comment. Or send a private note to

Image: "Nehemiah and the King" James Tissot (1836-1902/French) Watercolor on paper Jewish Museum, New York
[1] Backstory:  Babylon conquered Israel and led the nation into captivity. After seventy years, Persia conquered Babylon. God prompted Persian King Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem. The project began under Ezra’s leadership. However, Israel had many enemies. Opposition arose. Work halted. The project was finished under Nehemiah's leadership.


  1. I often think about how fearless a cup-bearer must be. And yet in other ways he can fear. Like us. Brave sometimes and not others. Thankful God is brave for us always. Nice post.

    1. Good point, Kelly. I described his job as "cushy," but it definitely held an element of danger. Yes, our God is brave for us! Love that. :)


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