Dec. 6, 2016
For Immediate Release
By Jesse Harp, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. C.B. Akins, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bracktown, in Lexington, Ky., spoke about prayer and giving thanks at Campbellsville University’s Thanksgiving chapel recently.
“I believe it is up to the church to remind the world that we still need to give thanks,” Akins said.
Akins began his message by deriving scripture from the book of Nehemiah chapter 2. In this passage, Nehemiah’s king asks him why he looks sad although he is not ill, and determines that it must be sadness of heart. Although Nehemiah was afraid, he told the king that the city where his fathers are buried lies in ruins and gates have been burned. The king asks Nehemiah what he wants, after which Nehemiah prayed to God and answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
Akins used this story to help illustrate the importance of prayer. Nehemiah gets word in the first chapter of the downfall of his beloved city, and it is four months before he has this exchange with the king. Akins said during the course of these four months, the prophet Nehemiah has been praying and planning in addition to completing his daily tasks.
Akins said that the text said that Nehemiah was afraid.
“The reason why Nehemiah was afraid was because a Persian subject was expected to be perfectly content just to be in the presence of his king,” Akins said.
Referencing scripture, Akins said that believers should make a joyful noise before the Lord and serve Him with gladness.
“It appears to me today that we get more excited about presents with a ‘t’ than we do presence with a ‘c’,” Akins said. “I really believe that instead of seeking the Lord’s hand we need to seek the Lord’s face.”
Akins pointed out that Nehemiah risked his life by being sad in the presence of the king, as individuals could be executed in those times for displaying discontentment in front of their king. His sadness reflected his genuine concern for Jerusalem, Akins said.
“Sometimes we fake it ’til we make it,” Akins said. “But there are other times when the weight is so heavy and the concern is so great that even our best efforts to keep up a good front cannot totally hide the fact that something is bothering us.”
After Nehemiah explains why he is in distress, Akins said that the king asked him what he wanted. After this, Nehemiah had the opportunity to ask for whatever he wanted. Nehemiah could not ask for anything until the king asked him what he wanted.
“God set us up to be able to ask of him,” Akins said. “He told us in Matthew 7, ‘if your child asks for bread, you don’t give him a stone. And if he asks for fish you don’t give him a serpent. If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the father who is in heaven give to them that ask him.'”
Akins points out that although the king asks Nehemiah what he wants in verse 4a, Nehemiah does not respond until verse 5. This is because, Akins said, that verse 4b was spent in prayer. Nehemiah paused so briefly, that it is only indicated with the 8 words, “Before he answered, Nehemiah prayed.”
“His mind was troubled, but he prayed,” Akins said. “He was uncertain about the future, but he prayed. He was not sure what he should do, but her prayed. Like a dove flying to hide itself in the cleft of a rock, so Nehemiah flew to God in prayer.”
Although Nehemiah had spent the previous four months in prayer, he needed to pray more.
“The one who has prayed much will pray more,” Akins said. “The one who has given much will always give more.”
Nehemiah’s pause to be spiritually present with the Lord, which is what Akins referred to as a “sandwich prayer.”
“Nehemiah sandwiched his prayer between the king’s request and his reply,” Akins said. “God said ask and you shall receive, but maybe before we reply we ought to slip a prayer in the middle.”
Although it was a brief, silent prayer, Akins said that he did not have to pray loud or long, because he prayed so often that it was a spiritual encounter. The king wasn’t even aware that he prayed, but it did not matter, because Nehemiah was not interested in anybody else hearing him pray.
“Nehemiah’s reply was, ‘If it pleased the king and if thou servant has found favor in your sight, send me to Judah.”
Akins emphasized the importance of the words “send me.” He said that there is a categorical difference in being sent, and just being allowed to go.
“Nehemiah is saying, ‘don’t just let me go, but send me,” Akins said. “For if you let me go, then I go on my own, but if you send me, then your power goes with me.”
Akins made a connection to a church in Illinois is went to growing up. He said that there was a bell, and the rope hung down in the front lobby. From the lower level, Akins said that you could not see the bell.
“But when you pulled the rope on the lower level, the bell rang on the upper level,” Akins said, making the connection that when you reach out to God in prayer, he makes his presence known.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 4,500 students offering over 80 programs of study including 19 master’s degrees, six postgraduate areas and seven pre-professional programs. The university has off-campus centers in Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset and Hodgenville with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville and a full complement of online programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.