One Man’s Prayer
The First two chapters of Nehemiah hold so many prayer lessons they practically fly off the pages. Fifteen principles is enough to keep a person amply busy.
Verse four begins: “ When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah was devastated over the ruin of the wall of Jerusalem. 1) His heart was broken over what was important to God. 2) He was weighed down for days (and nights) with this great need. 3) His praying was accompanied with the sacrifice of going without food. 4) He clarifies his proper relationship with God by referring to himself in verse six as God’s servant. (This already is plenty to keep me busy.)
5) In the latter part of verse six, Nehemiah humbly includes himself in the mass of sinful people and that his sin is against God. Not against someone else or the rules of the land, but against his Creator. 6) He confesses not only the wrongs committed, but the obedience to God that is left undone.
Then the lessons seem to brighten up a bit. 7) In verse eight and nine, he claims God’s promise to his people. And God keeps His promises today just as He did twenty-five hundred years ago. Then, standing before the king, 8) Nehemiah takes a moment and prays one more time. Even though he had already prayed, he had such a spirit of prayer, that he just couldn’t stop.
Next, to the king, and before that to God, 9) he asks the unselfish request of rebuilding the wall, and… 10) the big request for letters from the king for the supplies needed for the project. Though the Scriptures do not mention it, I think we can be very confident that every request made of the king, before that, was boldly, and in great faith, made to the King of kings.
The concluding lessons, as only seems right, point back to God. 11) Bringing foreign officials and labors into Nehemiah’s request (2:7,8) takes the limelight off him and leaves more for the God behind this great request. Verse eight concludes with 12) giving God the credit. Then in verse eighteen Nehemiah boldly shares with the believing fellow Jews 13) the great need and how God had divinely directed him in seeing the need filled.
Finally, when he knew God was directing him, 14) Nehemiah gets hit from both sides by Satan through the unbelieving few (2:19). But his clear sense of direction is not shaken. In the following verse, he has the perfect response: 15) “… ‘The God of heaven will give us success…’”
I, personally, will be delighted with each principle I master from this overwhelming example. It’s not a perfect report card I’m necessarily after, just to hear, “Well done.”