Nehemiah’s Prayer

Nehemiah’s Prayer

O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant.
–Nehemiah 1:11

As soon as Nehemiah heard that the wall of Jerusalem was in ruins, he began praying for God’s assistance. Let me point out four components of this prayer. First of all, Nehemiah focused on the greatness of God. Look at verse 5: “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God.’” Nehemiah served the most powerful man in the world, King Artaxerxes of Persia. Yet Nehemiah reminded himself that he served someone even more powerful than Artaxerxes. When you are facing a challenge, remember the greatness of the God you’re serving.

Second, his prayer centered on the holiness of God. Look at verse 7: “We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded your servant Moses.” He was saying, “God, we did not end up this way by accident. We are in the shape we are in today because of our sin.” The same thing might be true of you. Do you ask God to do things, and your requests are met with a stony silence? It may be there is a barrier between you and God, and that barrier is sin. Isaiah said, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” (59:2). If right now you are engaging in actions or attitudes that are contrary to the will of God, do not expect God to hear, much less answer, your prayers. Nehemiah understood this. He said, “Our sins are a barrier, so Lord, I am confessing my sin before You.” If you want to start hearing God’s voice again in your life, why not go ahead and confess that sin to Him? He is ready to forgive, if you are willing to ask.

Third, Nehemiah’s prayer centered on the faithfulness of God. He said, “Remember, the word which You commanded Your servant Moses,” and he went on to remind God of His promise to Israel (Nehemiah 1:8-10). God delights in our reminding Him of His promises to us. Did you know there are over seven thousand promises in the Bible to us? Which one of those promises are you claiming today? Nehemiah reminded God of His promise to be faithful.

Fourth, Nehemiah based his prayer on the intervention of God. He asked God to do something specific. It was not just, “Bless me, bless that, bless everything under the sun.” Instead, he prayed, “O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant . . . and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man” (v. 11). He was talking about King Artaxerxes. Between Nehemiah and his God-given dream, there was an obstacle: the king. Maybe you have a dream, but between you and your dream, there is an obstacle. It may be an employer, it may be a mate, it may be a government official. Next week, when we get to chapter 2, we are going to see how Nehemiah dealt with Artaxerxes. But Nehemiah was saying, “God, grant me wisdom in how to deal with Artaxerxes. Turn his heart toward You.” He prayed for God’s divine intervention to accomplish his goal.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living Your Dreams” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.