Learning from a great prayer (Nehemiah 1:4-11)

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Do you know the feeling?  There is a moment when you know what you need to do is pray, there is some form of great need that exceeds your resources or decision that outstrips your wisdom…and yet as you get down to pray you feel at a loss for words.

I love considering the great prayers of Scripture, learning from them by observing how these men and women engaged God in moments of great significance.  Nehemiah hears a report of the state of Jerusalem, is reminded of the dire situation God’s people are in, under God’s judgement in a foreign nation, with the temple and the capital city in ruins.  Nehemiah has no real power or position to affect any change to the situation…

But Nehemiah is in a personal relationship with the ONE who sits enthroned above the circle of the earth (Isaiah 40:22), and so he can call out to God.  As he prays we can listen in and learn from one of the greatest prayers of Scripture.

So what can we learn from this great prayer:

  1. Heart: great prayers come from the heart that has been moved! (vs4)
  2. Clarity: prayer that starts with a clear understanding of whom you’re praying to fills that prayer with faith and meaning.  After all there is no point praying to someone who can’t do anything about the thing you’re praying about! (vs4)
  3. Character: great prayers petition God on the basis of His unchanging character and the promises He has made (vs5)
  4. Repentance: in prayer we allow God to reveal what’s wrong in us and we turn to Him by turning from such sin. (vs6-7)
  5. Scripture: great prayers quote Scripture, the infallible word of God  (vs8-9)
  6. Requests: to pray is to make your requests known to God (vs11)
  7. Perspective: true prayer helps us to keep things in perspective (vs11) so that even powerful kings become just ‘this man’.
  8. Action: prayer is not passive, when we pray invariably God reveals next steps which we must take with faith & obedience (Nehemiah 2:1)

Meditate on this prayer of Nehemiah’s and then incorporate elements of his prayer into yours.

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