In this sermon, part of a series on prayer, Pastor Neil gives examples or profiles of prayer warriors, in a sermon entitled, “A Profile in Prayer.” Here are some excerpts:
… When you zero in on his prayer in 1:5-11, you see that Nehemiah begins by praising God as “the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and obey His commands” (1:5). I have a friend who often begins his prayersby saying: “Lord, thank You for being so awesome.” I like that! The Lord our God isawesome.
If anything should evoke a response of awe in us or from us, it is God in all the greatness of His glory and grace, in His holiness and love, in His sovereignty and power, andfaithfulness. God, of course, is not a “thing” but a Person – a personal God who loves each of us personally and desires to have a personal relationship with us. He is an awesome God, and we should never cease to think of Him with reverence and awe and amazement.
Nehemiah recognized the awesomeness of God and praised Him. He followed up his praise with an honest confession of sins. He confessed both the national sins of the people of Israel and his own complicity, his own sinfulness and that of his family, in the sins of God’s covenant people. In verse 6 he says: “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against You.” There is no trace of feeling that he was “holier than thou.” Nehemiah knew that he shared in the guilt of his people. Just as we are not exempt from the guilt of our nation in its sin, redeemed sinners – forgiven sinners –though we are.
Nehemiah then reminds God of His gracious promise to restore His people to Jerusalem (1:9). As Chuck Swindoll points out, “God does not lightly give out promises. He says: ‘I promise you that if you will give me your burden, I will bear it. If you will seek first my kingdom, I will add all these other things to you. If you will make your heart right before me, I will lead you into a path of stability and prosperity.’”
Before you get the wrong idea and think Swindoll is promoting some kind of prosperity gospel – or that I am – Swindoll says: “That doesn’t necessarily mean (God) will fill your wallet [or bank account]. It does mean that He will give you peace – like the world is not able to know” (Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick, 37).
When God makes a promise, you can be sure that He will keep it. And it is okay to remind God of His promises, although you don’t ever need to worry that He will forget.
The last element in Nehemiah’s prayer is his request for God’s blessing. With both humility and boldness, he asks the Lord to give him success by granting him favor with the king. Which was a prayer the Lord graciously answered…