Praying Authentically

Praying Authentically

 

Psalm 62:8 (ESV) ~ Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

 

Prayer is not a spectator sport. It is not something you do to give off signals of your spirituality. It is not something you do while watching others. Prayer involves TRUST in God at ALL TIMES.

 

Let’s look at how Nehemiah expresses the closeness of his relationship with God.

 

Nehemiah 1:5-11 (ESV) ~ And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 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 the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.

 

Years prior to the teaching of Christ, Nehemiah followed a model taught to the disciples found in Matthew 7:7-8. Nehemiah asked, sought and knocked at the door of heaven. Scripture later reveals that Nehemiah received what he asked for, found what he sought and the door was opened for him by the Lord.

 

Nehemiah became an intercessor, seeking the Lord on behalf of his people. Taking a look at the prayer we just read, let’s look point by point:

 

  • First, Nehemiah began his prayer by acknowledging God, praising Him for who He is and what He has done (v.5).
  • Second, Nehemiah identified with the people by confessing both their sins and his own before the Lord (vv.6-7).
    • He became an intercessor for the people before God, asking God to forgive the sins of Israel and of his own family.
    • Yet Nehemiah did not ask God to forgive his and Israel’s sins in general. Rather, he spelled out their sins (v.7). They had lived extremely wicked and corrupt lives, defiantly disobeying God’s Word, His Holy Commandments, His statutes and laws.
  • Third, Nehemiah pleaded for God’s mercy and help (vv.8-11).
    • He asked God to remember His Holy Word, the covenant He had made with His people. The covenant concerned sin and judgment.
    • But the covenant also concerned repentance and obedience and the wonderful experience of God’s mercy. If the people returned to the Lord, they would be returned to the promised land. This was the eternal promise of God. Accordingly, if the people of Nehemiah’s day would return to the Lord, the blessings of God would fall upon them. They would be delivered from their deep distress and trouble.
    • Nehemiah then asked God to remember their relationship: they were God’s servants, the very people He had redeemed by His great power and mighty hand (v.10). Thus he begged God to hear his prayer and the prayers of other servants who feared and revered his name (v.11).
    • Lastly, Nehemiah made a very practical request of the Lord. He asked the Lord to make an opportunity for him to approach the king because he wanted to request the king’s help (v.11). This was a prayer Nehemiah had apparently been offering up for several months (1:1; 2:1). Now, at last, the door was opened for him to approach the king. This was the day. Thus, Nehemiah asked the Lord to give him success in this critically important matter. King Artaxerxes needed to be stirred by God to grant the special request Nehemiah was going to make. The point to observe is that Nehemiah closed his prayer by asking God for specific help in dealing with the king. Bear in mind Nehemiah’s prominent and influential position in the royal court. He was the cupbearer to the king (v.11).
 
Pastor Andy Lambert

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