Structure that Prayer

Read Nehemiah 1:4-11

Go back to verse 3 to understand what Nehemiah heard that ripped him apart. Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down and fire has destroyed the gates. His beloved Jerusalem has been decimated and it rocks him to the core, creates a multiday time of mourning, fasting and praying. I’d like now to look at the means in which he structures that prayer recorded in the next verses. First he praises God calling Him great and awesome, then he extols the attributes of the Almighty King – one who keeps covenant and is full of steadfast love. He acknowledges the applicable conditions for revelation of those attributes: people who love Him and keep His commandments (v.5). Then he asks God to see and hear. He admits his position as servant and describes his devotion to the prayer: making his request before God day and night. Then he repents for Israel’s sake and admits his own improprieties (v.6).

3066623648_59be4dfac9_qHe doesn’t sugar coat their sins but lists them specifically (v.7). Then he asks God to remember not just the punishment for bad behavior but also the relenting when the people return (v.8-9). He gives God the Word. Then he claims their position as God’s people and once again gives God the praise for His strength (v. 10). He finishes off asking God, again to hear him and those praying like him and then he asks God to act on his behalf. Here’s the thing, friends, God not only listens to prayers, like these but He truly does act on them. Something we miss out on in our daily prayers is the necessity of praise. Even Jesus taught us to give God honor and glory in the Lord’s Prayer. We need to humble ourselves before Him, give Him the praise, repent, ask, praise and ask again. Let’s start modeling our prayers after those Biblical characters who prayed successfully. Surely there’s a reason their prayers are recorded.

Father, You are awesome. You love is supreme. Words fail us when in Your gates with praise. May they come easier as we seek to give You the honor You deserve. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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