“I pray, O LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments…” Nehemiah 1.5
Nehemiah’s Prayers, and Ours
I have long appreciated the book of Nehemiah for the wisdom he demonstrated as he worked to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and for his consistently turning to prayer in his service for the Lord.
But I recently read Jonathan Edwards, who gave me an even greater appreciation for Nehemiah. Edwards presented Nehemiah as a type of Christ; and this has brought to both the man Nehemiah and his book a richness and depth I had previously overlooked, especially with respect to his prayers.
Looking at Nehemiah as a type of Christ provides us a powerful example of a life-centered prayer.
The similarities we see in the prayers of Nehemiah and Christ are many and striking. We’ll take a look at these, and what we can learn from them, over the next few issues of Men at Prayer.
First, Nehemiah, like Jesus, repeatedly turned to the Lord in prayer (Neh. 1.4; 2.4; 4.4; 5.19; 6.14; and 13.22). In Nehemiah’s prayer in the first chapter, (1.4-11), he interceded on behalf of the nation Israel, just as Christ prayed on behalf of his own (John 17.9). Nehemiah was an advocate for Israel just as Christ is our advocate with the Father (I John 2.2).
Moreover, Nehemiah mentioned both the steadfast love of the Lord and God’s covenant with Israel, just as Jesus, in His priestly prayer, prayed for the people of the new covenant (John 17.9).
Again, Nehemiah is described as praying “day and night” (1.6), which for the Jews was their manner of saying continually. Similarly, Jesus was often times in prayer for His ministry and for the disciples. Now, Hebrews states that Jesus “always lives to make intercession for them [His body, the Church] (Heb. 7.25).
Finally (for now), when Nehemiah made his request to King Artaxerxes, he stated, “If it pleases the King, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah…” (2.5). Christ, while praying in the garden before He was betrayed, held that same sentiment when He prayed “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, l but yours, be done” (Luke 22.42).
Here is much instruction and encouragement for us in our prayers. Be constant. Plead with God to revive His Church. Call upon His steadfast love and faithfulness. And make yourself available for whatever God might be pleased for you to do in working for revival, renewal, and awakening.
We all have a way to go before we rise to this standard. But the standard is clear, and the challenge is for each of us. As Men at Prayer, should we not strive to be like the great prayer warriors of the Bible?
Indeed, we should.
Prayer: Opportunities and Resources
Make a stack of copies of “Men of the Church: A Solemn Call” for free by clicking this link, and use them to urge the men in your church to join us in this movement of Men at Prayer.
Order additional copies of If Men Will Pray and begin challenging your friends to take up this daily work of seeking the Lord with greater consistency and power.
Finally, our latest resource for prayer is the book, Restore Us! It’s available at the bookstore, and is our guide and resource for enlisting you and your friends in praying daily for revival.
Ralph Lehman, Men at Prayer Coordinator
T. M. Moore, Principal
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.