“5 Then I said: ‘Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly towards you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 ‘Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.”10 ‘They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man.’I was cupbearer to the king.” NIV
Nehemiah’s prayer is soaked in Scripture.
In verse 6a there is an allusion to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:29)
In conjunction with verses 8,9 it’s good to keep in mind Leviticus 26:33, 36-39, 40-42 & Deuteronomy 30:1-5 (Also Deuteronomy 12:5 and 1 Kings 8:48).
Underlying the whole is the recognition that God is a covenant-keeping God (5). He is faithful; He is true to His Word. He will do what He says if we play our part.
I think it’s true to say that the greatest intercessors in the history of the church have been those men and women who have prayed, as it were, with an open Bible. They have taken what God says seriously, and they have dared to stand on it. Eugene Peterson has pointed out that prayer is answering speech. God has the first word, and we respond to Him in prayer.
‘This prayer of Nehemiah’s is very beautiful, saturated as it is with quotations from Scripture, and so effective with God because based on his own Word.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.205
Just recently something has ‘clicked’ for me. I’ve come to see that you can pretty much take any text of the Bible and turn it into prayer. I find it helpful to think:
- What does this verse (or passage) command? (State? Promise? Etc);
- How does it provoke thanksgiving?;
- What do I need to confess in the light of it?;
- What does it move me to pray?
PRAYER: Lord, please teach me the mighty power of praying your Word.
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