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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Prayer Life Par Excellence (Nehemiah 1:5, 8a)

 Then I said: "O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands . . . Remember the instruction you gave to your servant Moses saying . . . "

Well-grounded prayer always begins with an accurate view of God and an appropriation of His promises. Nehemiah's prayer reflects an accurate view of God and a knowledge of God's Word.

Nehemiah's view of God
Upon hearing the news of the destruction of Jerusalem, Nehemiah "sat down and wept". What he heard broke his heart. He understood that God was just and righteous in His dealings with his people and the destruction of Jerusalem. God's love for His people doesn't overlook their sin and rebellion. He blesses those who obey Him and curses those who disobey.

Nehemiah's view of God and understanding of Israel's situation is grounded in ScriptureBack in Deuteronomy 4:23ff the LORD promises Israel's descendants that if they "act corruptly and make a carved image in the form of anything, and do evil in the sight of the LORD your God to provoke Him to anger" that they would "soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess." He then promises to scatter them among the peoples. As He speaks of that day He also promises them, "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart, and with all your soul . . . when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice . . . He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them." Now here they are, just as God promised, scattered in a foreign land.

Nehemiah's appropriation of God's promises
Nehemiah seeks the Lord in obedience to what had been written in Deuteronomy chapter four. He meets the conditions laid out by God long ago. He immediately turns to the LORD and leads the people in a prayer of repentance, "I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws that you gave your servant Moses." Only after their sins have been confessed does Nehemiah proceed with his request, "Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."

Well-grounded prayer evoke joy and peace in the heart of the pray-er and the assurance of God's answer in intervention and guidance. Prayer birthed in the Word of God and bathed in the promises of God always enjoys the blessing of God.

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Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Nehemiah 1-4
  • How does the news from Judah affect Nehemiah?
  • Read Esther 1:2; 3:15; 4:8; 9:6 to see what took place more than twenty years before.
  • How has God uniquely positioned Nehemiah in order to accomplish His purposes?
  • Describe Nehemiah's prayer life.
  • Describe Nehemiah's reception upon his arrival to Jerusalem.
  • What does Nehemiah say that stirs up hope and creates a willingness to work hard under extreme conditions?
  • What does Sanballat do to prohibit the rebuilding of the temple? What does this tell you about the enemy's methods?
  • How does Nehemiah face the opposition and encourage his workers?
Turning truth into prayer:
Ask the LORD to make you more aware/sensitive to what He is doing in the midst of your daily life. Ask Him to help you make prayer your first response and teach you to pray based upon His character and promises.