PRACTICAL LESSONS FROM NEHEMIAH'S PRAYERI was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and loving-kindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 6 let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned.
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.
8 Remember the word which 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 those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’
10 They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.”(Nehemiah 1:4-11)
There are so many great prayers in the Bible, they can fill many books and sermons about their content, meaning and message. One of the greatest leaders and men of God of all time, is Nehemiah, the first Governor of the Judean district (where Jerusalem was) after the Babylonian exile. Nehemiah was chosen by God to rebuild the city after the remnant of the Jewish people had withstood 70 years in exile, in pagan Babylon. As Nehemiah began to rebuild the wall, he faced a lot of opposition, taunts and real enemies from people like Sanballat, Tobiah and their Arab friend. Still Nehemiah and the faithful remnant stayed focus on rebuilding their portion of the wall (read the rest of the Book of Nehemiah), while keeping a vigilant eye open for danger. This is a great example for God's people for all time about practical living in the face of evil while persevering.
This entire prayer of Nehemiah's, to the Lord (see verses 4-11 above) stand out as one of the most powerful in all Scriptures, as the Lord not only granted victory but did it in a spectacular way. So what was it about this was so powerful that the Lord my God responded with overwhelming victorious response. Let us briefly look at how Nehemiah wasted no time or word and was both practical and proactive in his methodology of praying.
Verse 4: "I was fasting and praying..." - While some Christians do not fast or even believe in fasting, I can testify to the fact that an intentional fast signifies a willing heart open to hearing from heaven. Fasting sharpens the senses, and especially the spiritual senses as our hearts are more in tune with the Holy Spirit Who is our guarantor that God will hear our prayers. In dangerous times, the practical thing to do is to pray like Nehemiah - in submission, and temporarily depriving ourselves of the things of this world.
Verse 5: “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God...". Practical praying gets to the Point by acknowledging openly and truthfully, the Sovereign Power of God - His Might, His Majesty and His Mind Which attends the affairs of mankind. He responds any way He wishes, because He is sovereign over all.
Verse 6: "let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant..." Practical praying is pro-active in immediately asking the Father for His full attention to your petition, problem or issue. Notice how, after you read the entire verse above, after Nehemiah asked the Lord's full focus on the matter at hand, Nehemiah went on not just to confess the sins of the people but HIS OWN SINS. In verse 5, the Judean Governor praises and acknowledges the Sovereignty of God, and in verse 6, the petition and confession begins. This is our cue to lay are our souls bare before Him. Every hidden sin must be confessed before God and repentance must begin.
Verse 7: the confession and repenting of sins continues and Nehemiah uses the Plumb Line of Scripture to show just how horrible the departure from God's statutes was. We are in the same boat. Nothing in modern life matches up to Scripture and almost everything in life today, violates the Word of God. The road to restoration continues down the path of repentance.
Verses 8 and 9: "Remember the word..." Here Nehemiah "reminds" the Lord what He said He would do to His people if they strayed and while He disciplines, He is divinely merciful and loving like the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son. Practical praying for a solution is first to KNOW the promises and proclamation of God and secondly, how to apply them appropriately and recall these promises, WITH GREAT AWE AND RESPECT - back to Him! We can say something like "Heavenly Father, remember when You said "If Your people return to Your Word, obey Your commandments and statutes You will hear from Heaven, and if Your people who are called by Your Name....Lord I long to follow You more intentionally and walk in ALL Your Ways, please hear my prayer as I stand on Your Promise to hear from Heaven and heal....."
Verses 10 and 11: Notice that Nehemiah, in essence summarizes, presents and then yields to the Lord with expectation in the positive result. He is actually practical, concise and given the fact that the Holy Spirit included this short prayer in Scripture. Some of the most practical (and effective) prayers in Biblical history have been short, to the point and sweet. When Peter started walking on water towards Jesus, than took his eyes of the Lord and started to sink, he did not pull out his book of prayer from the Christian bookstore and launch into eloquent speech. Peter simply cried out "LORD, SAVE ME"...and He did! Here Nehemiah summarized effective in Verse 11 "I beseech thee"...."may Your Ear be attentive"....and I "revere Your Name"...so "make Your servant successful and grant Him compassion"
That is it! With this in mind, in spite of obstacles, in spite of serious spiritual attack, with this prayer as the foundation, Nehemiah led his people to a victorious conclusion. They were buffeted by Ezra the Scribe reading from the Word of God for hours, aloud, to ALL the people. The lesson for us is this: be practical, be fully prayed up, be clear and be buffeted by the Word of God.