Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Nehemiah's Prayer

My last post was a long time ago. I have a good reason - a new 3 and a half week old now resident in the Partridge house. In my last post I spoke about Habakkuk's prayer, now I turn my attention to Nehemiah.

Nehemiah is a hero of mine. Passionate about the state of Jerusalem, unwilling to be a distant spectator, he prayed, prepared and planned to re-build the walls of Jerusalem. He faced significant opposition and distraction, yet he mobilised a massive labour force to rebuild the city. In chapter 1, before he takes any action, he prays. And his prayer gives us a great model for our own prayer life.

1. He looks at God

He starts off by recognising who it is that he is praying to. Before making any request or speaking about the state of Jerusalem, he focuses on God.

'O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God....' (Neh 1 v 5)

He gets everything in perspective first. The God that he is praying to is great and awesome, bigger than any obstacle, greater than any project.

If we start our prayers focussing on the issue, the request, the need or the obstacle we may never get to focus on the God who is bigger than them all. Nehemiah does not make that mistake, he firstly focusses on God.

2. He looks at himself

He then recognises that he, his family, and his nation have not lived as God has required. The problems in Jerusalem are not his fault, he is not to blame, he lives 800 miles away. But he does not abdicate himself from all responsibility. He recognises that his life has not honoured God and therefore, he and his family, are in some responsible for the way things are.

'I confess the sins, we Israelites, including myself...have committed against you' (Neh 1 v 6)

3. He looks at the promises

Next up, he recalls the promises of God over the Israelite nation.

'Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses...' (Neh 1 v 8)

He turns the promises of God into his own prayers. God you said..... Have you ever struggled to know what to pray? Copy what Nehemiah does. The Bible is full of promises of God that we can turn back to him in prayer.

4. He focus' on the main thing

He knows that any project he embarks on in Jerusalem is not for his fame or reputation, nor is it for the fame or reputation of the Israelites. It is all for the fame and reputation of God.

'....who delight in revering your name' (Neh 1 v 11)

What's our motivation? Jesus - his fame and glory - that's it! Nehemiah was a man desperate to see the name of God honoured and glorified.

5. He makes his request

And it's quite a simple one.

'Give your servant success today by granting him favour....' (Neh 1 v 11)

Nehemiah didn't ask about resources for Jerusalem, or workers, or for insight as to the task ahead. He just asked about the next hurdle, the next step. He needed favour before his boss, the King. Sometimes we may just need to ask God for the next thing, not everything.

Nehemiah was a man of prayer. His model in chapter 1 is helpful to us in many way. Look at God, look at yourself, look at the promise, honour his name, make your request!

Part 2 of the TKC Teaching Series from the book of Nehemiah takes place on Sunday 14 March 2010.

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