Nehemiah 1:5-11 And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: (6) Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned. (7) We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. (8) Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: (9) But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. (10) Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. (11) O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.
In the previous post, we covered the Priority of Sovereignty, now we see:
A - ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SIN – 1:6-7
Once we recognize God as being sovereign, our next step down the path of powerful prayer will be to acknowledge our sin. We should respond as Isaiah did once he saw the Lord high and lifted up - Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
A child of God cannot have a proper view of God and still condone and be unrepentive of their sin. Many paths of prayer come to an abrupt stop because we are unwilling to recognize and acknowledge our sin. I like what Stephen Davey says on this subject – God does not forgive excuses, He forgives sin. (pg 28). The acknowledgement we read of in 1:7 is no blanket confession, but he named sin one by one. He did not live in some made-up dream world were everything was perfect all around him, but became personally responsible and concerned with the need. Alan Redpath once wrote, “Let us learn this lesson from Nehemiah: you never lighten the load unless you have first felt the pressure in your own soul. You are never used of God to bring blessing until God has opened your eyes and made you see things as they are (Hand Me.., pg 21).”
Nehemiah did not respond like the typical Christian does today to problems and bad reports. Our first response today usually is, “Who’s fault is this…who do I have to get on to?” Instead, Nehemiah demonstrated compassion and wept to God for his own sin and the sins of the people. Acknowledging our sin before God is of the utmost importance because our sin separates us from God in prayer. There are two types of people who are separated from God by sin
- Lost - John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Many people claim to believe in God but not in Jesus and think that God hears them when they pray and they are wrong. The 1st prayer of the unbeliever that God hears is the prayer asking Jesus Christ to be their saviour.
- Disobedient Christians - Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: The word regard does not mean to be sinless, it means to approve, enjoy. When we refuse to repent and turn away from known sin, or when we choose to do something knowing, “I can just ask for forgiveness afterwards…” it separates us from God and He will not hear our prayer
T - TRUST IN THE SCRIPTURES – 1:8-10
The Bible has been called given many names by many Christians. One is “The Answer Book,” or “The Instruction Manual For Life.” But a better, more accurate description is, “The Promise Book.” Why? Because it does not matter what it says if you do not trust it. In Nehemiah’s prayer, he quotes and paraphrases from Ex. 20:6, Lev. 26:33, Deut. 30:2,4, and Ex. 32:11.
Nehemiah recognized the first part was true and fulfilled; now he was pleading to God to fulfill the second part of the promise. Same for us today. Jesus has already came the first time and died for our sins and rose again from the grave the third day. Now, we are praying for God to fulfill the second part of His promise and return to take the saints to heaven with Him.
Nehemiah was able to pray this way because he hid God’s Word in his heart and his mind. In great time of need and despair, he recited and paraphrased it back to God. Stephen Davey shares this thought on this subject – Nehemiah had a grasp of the Word, and the Word had a grip on him (pg 33). I think that one of the main reasons that many Christians don’t know what to say in prayer is because they don’t know what God has already said to them in His Word.
H – HUMILITY IN SUPPLICATION – 1:11
The last thing that Nehemiah prayed for was his request. The first thing we usually pray for was the last thing he prayed for. Being humble means laying aside your own pride, and your own ideas, and fully submitting yourself to God. Nehemiah personally signed up to be the solution. He was willing to put “feet to his prayer.” “The greatest thrill in praying is not necessarily in receiving an answer, but in becoming the answer. (Nehemiah: Memoirs of an Ordinary Man, pg. 34)” Is it our prayer that God that He might use us to fulfill His will?
Remember our boy who was asked to pray for the meal but just started eating instead? His parents asked him why he didn’t pray, and the boy answered, “I already prayed for this food; these are leftovers!” (1001 More Humorous Illustrations For Public Speaking, pg 256). This boy has already traveled down that path for that meal. Are you on the path to a powerful prayer life?