Following threats by those who wanted to stop the construction of the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah 4:9 says: “But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them …”. Nehemiah kept an important balance here which should serve as an example for us:
Nehemiah was both “spiritual” and “practical” as he approached his task:
— First, it says: “we prayed to our God.” He kept things on a spiritual plane, by looking to the Lord in prayer.
— But significantly, he did not merely pray and then do nothing. It then says: “and because of them, we set up a guard against them …”. After they prayed, they also took some practical steps to guard agains the threats of the enemy.
People often tend to be either “practical” or “spiritual.” They either pray, and then sit around, hoping that God will do something for them; or they neglect to trust God in prayer, instead pinning their hopes on whatever pragmatic solutions they can employ in their situation. Neither is the ideal posture.
Nehemiah models for us the proper balance: pray AND work! Be both “spiritual” AND “practical.” Like the chaplain exhorted those loading the guns on the ship while it was being attacked at Pearl Harbor: “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!”