In the first chapter of Nehemiah, this average man who is not a priest and was not a prophet, offers up a prayer to God. It is motived by his discovery that despite the Babylonians having been conquered by the Persians, and despite the fact that the descendants of the exiles have returned home, the walls of Jerusalem are still in terrible shape. The city is exposed to attack. He is going to Jerusalem, his journey starting from the capital city of Persia; he will rebuild the walls, enact economic reforms, and aid the poor. His prayer is a request of God to bless him on his many-year mission. He teaches us the proper way to fast, and in fact, the proper way to perform any act of self-denial. He teaches us how to honor God instead of ourselves.