Sunday, 10 April 2016

Nehemiah's Prayer - Nehemiah 1:5 - 11

Nehemiah and his people were in exile. He was serving a foreign king and acutely aware of the devastation and shame on his people back home. The walls of Jerusalem were in ruins and their plight was desperate.

In this context Nehemiah prays to God - a prayer we can learn from. See how (v5) he starts with God. That is the right place to start: with a confidence grounded in who God is. He re-plays what God has said and done, which will be the basis on which he eventually brings his requests. Our own prayers need not be prayed in a vacuum, but in the light of who God is.

He moves on (v6-7) to confession. Nehemiah knows the shortcomings of his people, and owns them for himself. We too can acknowledge our issues, our sheer inability in the face of His ability.

Yet despite our mess God is faithful. Nehemiah rehearses this (v8-9), doing a mini story-tell of God's faithful action and promises. This again grounds the prayer in God, lifting eyes back to Him once again. The climax of the story is for him the Exodus out-of-Egypt event. For us it is our Easter celebrations: Good Friday and Easter Day, a reminder again and again that God is faithful.

Finally v11 gets to the actual request. Notice the request list is just one verse out of the whole prayer! [Once again, something we might learn from ...]

In the last series we looked at Jesus the Discipler, training followers through a life on life process. Part of that process was modelling habits that would sustain them in their ministry and walk with Jesus. As we see also with Nehemiah, prayer is surely one such bed-rock habit.

Prayer can take many forms and styles, with different approaches suiting various personalities. Yet prayer as habit is non-negotiable. Through his prayer we see Nehemiah had a confidence in approaching God, and occasionally it is worth giving ourselves a kind of 'spiritual MOT', asking:

Key Qn: [UP] What level of confidence do you have to approach God in prayer
Challenge: Use Nehemiah's prayer as a model for your own prayer

Using a prayer like Nehemiah's can be a useful exercise, giving us a model to refresh our own prayer life, reminding us to put the focus clearly back on God whatever the circumstances.

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