The TV show Mission Impossible always had the same formula. The head of the Mission Impossible force would receive a tape with the mission orders on it.
The assignment was always something totally impossible. He would pick his crew, and then they would go for it. You always knew how it would ultimately end because they never failed. The Mission Impossible Force would always get the job done. There is a way to find out how you can do the "mission impossible."
Nehemiah 1:3-4 of the Bible has the answer. While working for the king of Persia, Nehemiah receives word that Jerusalem has been torn down. The walls and gates are in ruins. Nehemiah says, "They said to me, '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.' When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven."
Nehemiah faced a mission impossible. He had no idea how that city could ever be rebuilt or that he could even make a difference. Maybe you have a mission impossible right now like a medical or financial crisis; a relationship with a friend, spouse, or one of your children; it could be emotional or stress-related; or maybe it's a mountain that simply will not move.
Nehemiah prayed a mission impossible prayer. His prayer in Nehemiah 1 changed the course of history, because that Jerusalem wall was rebuilt in fifty-two days under Nehemiah's leadership. We can get a happy ending to our mission impossible by praying like Nehemiah. Five ingredients make up Nehemiah's powerful prayer: intensity, availability, purity, authority, and responsibility.
In verse 5 Nehemiah says, "O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands." There is a big difference between a "Dear God" and an "O Lord" prayer. "Dear God" is the kind we usually pray - the casual "Lord, bless me, help my life, forgive my sins, and bless the missionaries." "O Lord" praying is desperate, urgent, on your face, "Lord, I am powerless in this situation." It is time we did some "O Lord" praying with intensity.
Nehemiah says in verse 6, "Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night." By praying day and night Nehemiah is saying, "Lord, I'm available. I'm your servant. I'm a blank piece of paper. I will do anything you ask." We need to come to the Lord with willingness and total availability.
In verses 6 and 7, Nehemiah confesses "the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands." He faced the sin that might have been keeping God from blessing them. The problem here was not the walls or the city being down, but the Israelites' own sin. We also have to look at that first.
Nehemiah quotes a promise from the Lord in verses 8-9 that if God's people would call on Him and turn back to His commands, He would bring His exiled people back. He prays on the authority of the promises of God. We need to quote God's promises to Him and say, "Lord, I come to you on the strength of your promise." There is authority in that kind of praying.
Nehemiah says in verse 11, "Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man." Then he goes to the king to talk to him about the problem. That is responsibility. We must take a step of faith in God's direction, even though we're unsure of the final outcome.
Do you have a mission impossible? God gives answers for your mission in Nehemiah's prayer. Go to God's throne room and pray a mission impossible prayer.