Nehemiah was a man of action! He worked at the highest levels of Persian government, and was an extremely effective leader. He took on the monumental task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and accomplished his goals. But the biblical account of his life does not start with his actions. It starts with his prayer. Nehemiah 1 teaches us that to be a wo/man of action in God’s kingdom, you must first be a wo/man of prayer.
1. Prayer is not mindfulness. It is communion with God.
While mindfulness may be popular, we should not confuse it with prayer. Prayer is not about breathing or health; it is about relationship with Father, Son, and Spirit.
2. Prayer is submission to God.
Nehemiah works under the king of Persia, but he is submitted to the King of heaven.
3. Knowing God in prayer leads us to know ourselves.
Nehemiah was no John Wayne. He knew himself and knew when it was ok to be emotional (Neh. 1:4, 6-7). He knew himself because he knew his God.. He knew himself because he knew his God.
4. Prayer is action.
We think of prayer as passive. It is in a sense. But it is also highly active! (Isa. 55:11)
5. Adoration praises God. (Neh. 1:5)
We praise God because it is what he deserves and why we exist! (Rev. 5:9-11)
6. Confession is for everyday. (Neh. 1:6-7)
The closer you are to someone, the more you need their forgiveness. Paul says we live and move and have our being in God (Acts 17:28). We should confess everyday.
7. Supplication belongs in the story. (Neh. 1:8-11)
Nehemiah prays in light of Israel’s story. We pray in light of the gospel (Jn. 14:13-14).
8. Confidence in prayer comes in Christ.
In the gospel story, I can know who I am. And I can pray with confidence humility because I know the Father hears me in Christ.
Reflection & Application Questions
Do you have more time for mindfulness or prayer?
Are you joyfully submitted to God? Does your prayer life show this?
Do you believe the way to know yourself is to know your God? Why/not?
Why does Nehemiah start with adoration? Why is that important?
Do you confess your sin everyday? How can you grow in this practice?
Do you make requests to God in light of the gospel story? Why does the gospel give us confidence to make requests of the Father?
How does the gospel give us confident humility? How can you grow in this?