Friday, 29 March 2019
Nehemiah 1 : 1-11
"O LORD, GOD of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love... let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer... " -Nehemiah 1:5-6
The Book of Nehemiah recounts the efforts on the part of Nehemiah, the prophet, who undertakes the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem when the LORD lays a burden on him even when he was in exile in Babylon. Though he was in a respectable and enviable post in the service of the king, he does not forget his people or his nation and longs for their restoration, which brings forth this ardent prayer before the GOD of heaven. He was heartbroken at the news he had heard of his homeland and the prevailing conditions and he lifts his heart in prayer before God.
There a few things we can learn from the prayer of Nehemiah:
He acknowledges the God who he is praying to as great and awesome (Ps.47:2) and a covenant-keeping GOD(Ps.105:8)
Though the people of Israel were unfaithful several times, GOD's faithfulness and mercy always reached out in restoring them when they were willing to return to Him. Deuteronomy 30:1-10 gives an outline of how He would restore His people when they truly turn back and obey Him. He hears our prayer because of His great mercy! (Daniel 9:18)
When one calls to the Lord with a contrite heart, the LORD is willing to listen- "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18). Nehemiah's was a cry from the heart- there was a genuine desire in him to see the LORD's name honoured and His people restored from their desolate state. In the New Testament, when we read the letters of Paul to the churches, we see Paul's intensive, unceasing prayer for the people he had led to the LORD- for their welfare and their walk with God (2Tim.1:2).
Secondly, Nehemiah confessed his sins before the LORD
Nehemiah knew this was preliminary before his prayer is heard; then only did he put his requests before God. The LORD cannot hear or answer when there is a sin that separates us and Him. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear." But to those who are convicted of their sin, when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9).
A believer can learn from the life of Nehemiah how he was pained about the condition of his land and his people. He first took his concerns to the Lord with deep anguish of heart and then he determined in his mind to do something about it. At the end of his prayer he says, "Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me." (Neh 1:11) His prayer looked forward to an action on his part.
To those who have veered off God's path, if you return to Him, He is ever willing to forgive and restore! "For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favour lasts a lifetime" (Ps.30:5). How privileged we are when we think about our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, who speaks to the Father in our defence! His blood made us partners of the new covenant. Jesus Christ is our advocate before the Father. He is the great High Priest ever interceding for us. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with confidence.
"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective "
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