Praying to God in a Time of Need
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. 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, 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. 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. 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.’ 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.”Now I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah hearing what the nation of Israel was going through causes him to mourn. He is hurting, and the story of Nehemiah shows us a ordinary man with an ordinary job used to lead the restoration of Israel. Under Nehemiah’s leadership, the nation of Israel would be able to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It first starts by him being moved to compassion and wanting to do something. He directs his attention to the Lord in prayer.
Prayer to God
Nehemiah does several things in this prayer that should stand out. He first recognizes who God is, and this should be noticed because prayer is not just to anyone. Prayer is to the God of the Universe. Prayer is to God the author and sustainer of life. He recognizes that God is the one who keeps His covenant. This covenant is important because God did not break his promise while the people of Israel did not keep their end of the covenant. God always keeps his promises even when we don’t deserve His grace and mercy.
Nehemiah confesses the sins of the people but does not ask for forgiveness. He recognizes that they are not worthy of what God has done for them, and what He continues to do for them.
Make Your Requests Known to God
Nehemiah will make his requests known to God. The story will continue with Nehemiah, and what he needs to do to help the people of Israel. However, Nehemiah is asking God to hear his prayer, and remember the people of Israel. He is asking God to remember the covenant he made with Moses, and to keep that covenant.
It gives us the example to remind God the promises he has made to us. When we read a promise that believers have in Christ, we can remind God in our prayers to keep those promises. He will answer those prayers because it is His will to keep his promises. God cannot do anything outside His character.
Let this story with Nehemiah encourage you to trust in the Lord through prayer. You may be wondering what God is doing in your life, but he has called on you to draw near to him that he may reward those who seek him. Draw near to the Lord and pursue Him in prayer.