Nehemiah was one of the Israelites who was taken into captivity in Persia. God favored him and made him the personal assistant to the King. When Nehemiah found out that there was a big problem in Jerusalem (over 900 miles away), his heart went out for the people. The first thing he did was pray. It was a different kind of prayer. Nehemiah asked God for a hearing, like in a court case. We need to learn how to pray this way.
There are several places in the Bible where God requires Nehemiah-type prayer.
God asked this kind of court-case prayer of Isaiah. He says to Isaiah: “Meet me in court! State your case and prove that you are right.” That’s the Contemporary English Version. The Amplified reads: “Remind Me [of your merits with a thorough report], let us plead and argue our case together; State your position, that you may be proved right.” And the KJV: “Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified” (Isa. 43:26).
The elements of Nehemiah’s court-case prayer are as follows.
- RECOGNIZE THE FEAR OF GOD. Nehemiah addressed Him: “I beseech thee, O Lord God of Heaven, the great and terrible God” (Neh. 1:5). The word “terrible,” in the Hebrew means “to be feared, or morally to revere. It means to cause astonishment, to be held in awe or godly fear.
Nehemiah was well aware of the wrath of God Almighty, the vengeance of God that took place when He merely took His hand of blessing off of people and let them reap the consequences of bad behavior. The results, as Nehemiah had experienced personally, were perilous, destructive, miserable, full of anguish, failure and deep depression—all the things the devil loves to put on God’s people.
Nehemiah verbally recognized God’s right to be angry.
- REMIND GOD THAT HE IS A GOD OF MERCY. Nehemiah reminded God that He is the God “that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments” (v.5).
- CONFESS AND REPENT FOR SINS. Nehemiah not only confessed and repented of his own sins, but he also confessed and repented for the sins of the people. “I pray before thee now, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee and have not kept the commandments” (vv.6-7).
Notice that Nehemiah mentioned the sins of his father’s house. There are sins we commit on purpose; we know better but we do them anyway. Then there are “sins of our fathers.” The Bible term for this is “iniquity.” These are patterns of thinking and acting that we “naturally” fall into, sins in our blood. They are sins we may or may not even be aware of until we see the painful consequences they bring to our lives. Nehemiah’s heart was broken when he heard about the people in Jerusalem, and he knew that they had fallen back into bloodline sins: apathy, moral compromises, rebellion, stubbornness, pride, abuse, ungodly priorities.
Nehemiah understood and repented for the people.
- PRESENT THE EVIDENCE. This is where Nehemiah went back to the scriptures to present evidence of God’s mercy to His people even after they sinned. He reminds God of how He worked in the time of Moses, how He told Moses if they didn’t do right, they’d be scattered and how if the people would turn back to Him, He’d gather them back and bless them. Then Nehemiah put his plea forward and basically said: “Since you did it for Moses, how about us?”
- ASK FOR PARDON AND A WAY TO MOVE FORWARD. Nehemiah then asked God: “O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer” (v.11). In the same verse, Nehemiah also asked God: “Prosper [move forward and make successful] thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man [the King of Persia].”
Nehemiah’s court case with God was a huge success. As it turns out, God blessed Nehemiah by working in the King to send Nehemiah to Jerusalem to take care of the problems. The King also sent letters to those in authority to make sure Nehemiah had all the physical supplies he would need to totally rebuild the walls and gates of the city. Building the walls and gates turned out to be much more of a blessing than just protection. It unified the people, strengthened their hearts, turned them back to God’s ways and healed them.
Just to confirm the five elements of Nehemiah’s prayer:
- RECOGNIZE THE FEAR OF GOD
- REMIND GOD THAT HE IS A GOD OF MERCY
- CONFESS AND REPENT FOR SINS
- PRESENT THE EVIDENCE
- ASK FOR PARDON AND A WAY TO MOVE FORWARD
I pray that God will help us to remember this type of prayer when we need it.
Love, Carolyn CHRISTMAS SPECIAL GIFT
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