Heroes #3 – Nehemiah the Prayer Warrior:
“So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 2:4b).
QUICK TAKE ON NEHEMIAH: “The Book of Nehemiah chronicles the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of its walls, with the purpose of encouraging the people to remain faithful to God‘s laws.” (The Spirit Filled Life Bible).
Nehemiah is a model to us of a prayer warrior – someone who had a close and intimate relationship with the Lord. When he heard a bad report about how his countrymen were doing back in Jerusalem, he prayed (1:1-4). When he had an opportunity to make his cause known before the king, he prayed (2:1-4). When his efforts to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem were met by opposition from powerful enemies, he prayed (4:1-4). When he was discouraged in the task at hand, he prayed to the Lord for strength to continue the work (6:9). No matter what happened, Nehemiah prayed. Some of the greatest prayers to pray, and model our prayer life after, are the prayers recorded in the Bible. Let’s take a look at one of Nehemiah’s prayers, as recorded in Nehemiah 1:5-11.
WORSHIP – 5 I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments
The first thing that Nehemiah does in his prayer is he praises God. How similar this is to the model that Jesus gives us in the Lord ’s Prayer: “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name.” The first thing we should do when we approach the Lord in prayer is to worship Him, for He is holy and worthy of our praise!
CONFESSION – 6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8 Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; 9 but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’
The second thing that Nehemiah does in his prayer is he confesses his sins and the sins of his people. Again, this reminds us of the Lord’s Prayer, where Jesus said to pray, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” When we approach the Lord in prayer, it is very important to confess our sins, to anything that might hinder us from being in His presence.
TRUST – 10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.
It’s interesting that Nehemiah prayed this prayer many years before Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer as a model to pray, and yet there are so many parallels here. Jesus said to pray, “For yours is the Kingdom, Power, and Glory.” When we pray, we remind ourselves that God is the King, we are His servants, and we have faith that He has the power to meet our needs.
PETITION – 11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man
The final thing that Nehemiah prayed for was that God would meet his needs, and the needs of his people. When we pray, God instructs us to ask him to “give us this day our daily bread” and to rely upon him to meet our every need. In response to Nehemiah’s prayer, the Bible says that, “And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.” (Nehemiah 2:8). In other words, God answered his prayer. The next time you pray, remember the example that Nehemiah gives to us: Praise and worship God, confess your sins to Him, trust in His power and love, and ask Him for the things you need. When you do this, the good hand of your God will be upon you, too!
Pastor Chris Jordan