“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 UK
F.B. Meyer says of Nehemiah: ‘The secret of his efficiency lay in his constant bringing of all the problems before God…’ He goes on to say Nehemiah reveals ‘…the mighty power that can be exerted by one who has no purpose in life and no power that is not centred in God.’ ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.204.
There are other details in this prayer we haven’t spent time on. For example, Nehemiah reminds God that Israel is ‘’your people’’(10). The Lord bought them. He delivered them at great cost and with tremendous effort.
There is also the thought that he recognises other people are praying about the situation (11a – Maybe there were even other people joining him in prayer?)
But the prayer eventually arrives at this one one focussed request:
‘’Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man.’’
Someone said, ’Pray until you pray.’
I heard one preacher say something like this, ‘When you start out praying, it might take a little while to get a sense of direction, then suddenly ‘the gears mesh’ and you’re away.
I don’t know whether Nehemiah always knew he was going to pray this particular prayer, or whether it gradually dawned on him, or came to him in a flash of inspiration. But I do know that sometimes it is after a lengthy time of prayer that you get a strong sense of what it is you ought to pray. You seem to feel a special ‘anointing’ – a power, a conviction – on this particular request.
‘Pray until you pray.’
PRAYER: Lord, there is so much about prayer that is a mystery to me. Lord, please, teach me to pray