Nehemiah 1:5-11

5and said, “I beg you, Yahweh, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6let your ear now be attentive and your eyes open, that you may listen to the prayer of your servant which I pray before you at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel your servants, while I confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against you. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned. 7We have dealt very corruptly against you, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which you commanded your servant Moses.

8“Remember, I beg you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you trespass, I will scatter you among the peoples; 9but if you return to me, and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and will bring them to the place that I have chosen, to cause my name to dwell there.’

10“Now these are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11Lord, I beg you, let your ear be attentive now to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name; and please prosper your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Now I was cup bearer to the king.


When Nehemiah heard about the ruined walls at Jerusalem, he was really distressed.  His first response was to fast and pray, let’s look at Nehemiah’s prayer: Firstly, he acknowledges God and his character, God is great and awesome, his love is unfailing and he keeps his promises.  Nehemiah was reassured that no matter the circumstances God was big enough to handle them.  Despite living under the rule of a foreign King, God was the one who was really in control.

Secondly, he brings the nation before God.  He prays on behalf of those in need.  Nehemiah confesses on behalf of the people and himself.  He doesn’t just blame everyone else but realises his own flaws and failures and brings them to God.  Thirdly, Nehemiah prays acknowledging the promises of God.  God did not need reminded of his promises, he is not absent minded or forgetful.  Nehemiah wasn’t just giving God a prompt, he was praying in faith.  He came before God as a man in a terrible situation and was acknowledging the peoples’ need of rescue and that God was the only one with the remedy.  

Finally, Nehemiah puts feet to his prayers, he is willing to take a risk and to lead the way back to Jerusalem.  Perhaps this is the hardest part of all.  We can acknowledge that God is God, we confess when we get things wrong.  We know that God’s will and plan are the best remedy for life and we know that he keeps his promises.  However, like Nehemiah are we willing to be involved in God’s plan, doing his will as well as praying for it?