I have prayed for more people than I can remember. I have seen lives changed, drug users become model citizens, the sick healed, broken hearts mended. I have seen the impossible. All of it was in the name of Jesus and to the glory of God.
So, how do you pray? Do you pray for change? Do you pray dangerous prayers? Do you pray?
I want us to look at Nehemiah's prayer. See some of the significant things about this great leader.
"4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven."
Nehemiah didn't just, "feel bad" about what was happening. It allowed it to touch him deeply and personally. When we pray, do we pray out of a sense of desperation? Do we pray from great passion and emotion? Or do we avoid those emotions so we don't have to feel responsible for them?
"5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,"
Nehemiah does not blame God for the past or current situation. Yes, it was God that allowed the nation of Isreal to be placed in exile. Yes, it was God who allowed the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed.
"6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you."
Nehemiah repents for everyone else. The Jewish people always embraced a sense of national responsibility. Not only was someone responsible for their sins, but they were also responsible for the overall health of the nation.
"Even I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. "
Nehemiah makes things personal. He cannot point the finger at everyone else and say it was their fault. He takes responsibility for his family and repents for their sins.
"8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ "
He reminds God of His promise to Israel. If they were unfaithful, they would be scattered. If they stayed faithful, he would bring them back. Nehemiah is making his case. Even though the Israelites were allowed to go back home, it was time to get serious about it.
"10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
Something happened during Nehemiah's time of prayer and fasting. He went from interceding for Isreal to pursuing God's will on his life to go do something about it. He asks for God's favor with the King. Things are about to change.
PRAY: Dear Jesus, teach me to pray like Nehemiah. AMEN