Last week we looked at Nehemiah’s first response: he prayed. Today we’ll take a look at the prayer itself. Here is what Nehemiah prayed:
I like Warren W. Wierbe’s explanation of Nehemiah’s prayer the best. Most of what I’m writing here today, I’ve studied in Wiersbe’s book “Be Determined”.
– The acknowledgement of God’s greatness
– Confession of Israel’s sins
– The request for God’s help
Nehemiah starts his prayer by addressing the “God of heaven” as God was known to the people at that time. King Cyrus used this title for God as recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-2. “Nehemiah began his prayer as we should begin our prayers: ‘Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be your name.’” (Matthew 6:9) (e)
5 Then I said,
“I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! 7 We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.” Nehemiah 1:6b-7
Nehemiah knew the Scriptures of the Old Testament! He knew that God was a loving and forgiving God. And if his people would confess their sins, God would return them to their land “and restore them to His favor and blessing.” (e)
When Nehemiah begins his prayer, he knows that he prays to the God of heaven and earth, to the LORD, JAHWEH, the God who keeps his covenant with his people. There is a certain confidence in Nehemiah’s words, that he knows who he is praying to.
He ends his prayer with a plea for help. He does know that his God is able to help him. And so he brings his specific request for help before God.
Nehemiah was confident that God would soften the heart of King Artaxerxes and grant him the practical help he and his fellow men needed to complete the project in Jerusalem. “Too often, we plan our projects and then ask God to bless them, but Nehemiah didn’t make that mistake. He sat down and wept (Nehemiah 1:4), knelt down and prayed, and then stood up and worked because he knew he had the blessing of the Lord on what he was doing.” (e)
What do I learn from Nehemiah’s prayer? I would like to include these three components in my prayer as well:
I’ve just come home from the Winnipeg Film Festival that was running this past week. I’m overwhelmed with the way God has answered my prayers and the prayers of so many others who were involved in organizing this event. I have to say that I’ve never worked on a project or event before that was covered with so much prayer. We prayed at all times of the day and for all things that were happening. It’s been an amazing week of movies, documentaries and discussions. It was incredibly hard at times, but because we knew we were doing the right thing, we got strength and energy day after day.
I have the privilege to serve an awesome God, who hears my confession and forgives me. And when I ask for His help when doing His work, He does what He does best: He comes through every time and overwhelms me with His response.
Have a blessed Monday everyone!
(e) Warren W. Wiersbe, “Be Determined”