Monday, February 22, 2016

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The Prayer of Nehemiah
Nehemiah 1: 1-11
Shannon Thomas
Long Island MTC, NY
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 your servants, the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned.
As a child, I remember my parents instilling in me the power of prayer. I used to pray for everything: food, clothing, getting A’s in all my classes etc. I used to even pray that my favourite character would not be harmed in the TV episodes that I used to watch. Trusting in the power of prayer, I genuinely believed that our big and awesome God could somehow save even my favorite fictitious character from her demise. Though my understanding of prayer as a child was simplistic, it was child-like faith that brought me to believe that all things are possible through God.

In a brief eleven verses, the first chapter of Nehemiah shows us the humble prayer behind a broken yet faithful man of God. At the time, Nehemiah was in exile among people of pagan beliefs. Despite holding a prestigious position, Nehemiah asks the Persian king for a leave of absence to go back to the shattered home of his ancestors to help reconstruct the walls of Jerusalem. The city walls, which represented protection and power, were in shambles and in desperate need of restoration. Nehemiah prayed day and night, and asked the Lord to have mercy once again on His people.
As we reflect on a few components of Nehemiah’s prayer, we as believers should be encouraged and challenged in our own prayer lives:
  • Adoration & Thanksgiving: In verse 4, Nehemiah opens his prayer in praising God for who He is and thanking Him for His faithful covenant with His people. Similarly, we should be spending time praising God for His continued faithfulness in our lives. As William A. Ward once said “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?”  In all circumstances, we should spend time in prayer glorifying the faithful God we serve.
  • Confession: Nehemiah continues his prayer, confessing not only his sins but also the sins of his people. Nehemiah does not try to excuse or justify sin, but recognizes that he and his people have fallen short of following the commands God had laid out for them. Confession should be a vital part of our prayers because we should realize that every sin committed is treason against a holy God, and we are in need of repentance.
  • Supplication: Nehemiah ends his prayer in supplication, asking God to extend mercy and grace on him and his fellow people. When was the last time our hearts burdened for the hurting people not only around us, but also around the world? As believers, we should learn how to pray for those around us, locally and globally.
God has willed for us to be a praying people and has allowed our prayers to make tremendous impact on the world. Like Nehemiah, let us continue to worship and seek God with complete obedience and humility.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, we praise You, for You are a good, merciful and faithful Father. We ask that You burden our hearts for those around us. May our hearts align with Your vision and will. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all” – Oswald Chambers