The Prayer of Nehemiah in Nehemiah chapter 1
Last Sunday evening we began our series on the great prayers of the Bible with Nehemiah’s prayer in Nehemiah 1. We saw that if we think of prayer only in terms of requests, then Nehemiah’s whole prayer boils down to one simple request in the last verse of the chapter “Make the king grant my petition”.
But there is a lot more to Nehemiah’s prayer than just asking God for something.
– Before he makes that request Nehemiah takes time to focus on the God whom he is addressing, honouring Him as the great God of heaven, the great and awesome God. He worships also the character of God, who is a God who makes and keep covenants with His people.
– Nehemiah confesses the sins of his people and acknowledges his own guilt as one of them. He does not try to make shallow excuses, but calls sin sin.
– He bases his prayer on the Word of God when he prays “Remember the instruction you gave to Moses”. In so doing he ensures that he is praying in God’s will and not on the basis of his own desires.
God is showing us through all this that prayer is so much more than asking for things. As we take time to worship, confess sin and found our prayer on God’s Word, prayer becomes so much richer. No longer is it a dry list of what we want, but an expression of a relationship with our Father, where we partner with Him by asking Him to do the things He wants to do. This kind of prayer builds faith.
We saw too how the report about the terrible state of Jerusalem moved Nehemiah to pray. It must have disturbed others too, but we only read about Nehemiah turning to prayer. He prayed because he saw three things.
– Firstly he saw how bad things really were;
– secondly he saw that God could change them;
– thirdly he saw that God could use him to make things different.
May God open our eyes too to see how bad things really are as so few around us know the Lord, to see that God is able to change that and reveal Himself to them and to see that we have a part to play. Then we will pray with passion, as Nehemiah prayed, “Lord, give me success”.
Yours in Christ,
Ian Thompson (Acting pastor)