“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
We continue looking at the prayers of Nehemiah, in order to see ways they line up with the prayers of Jesus – and therefore how they encourage us to pray as well.
Not only did Nehemiah pray for Israel, but he aligned himself with the sinful nation (Neh. 1.6). He took their sins upon himself, in other words.
Likewise, Jesus does not merely pray for sinners, but He also aligns Himself with sinners (see Heb. 4.6).
Later, in chapter 4, prayed that God would deliver Israel from its enemies, (v. 4). Christ prayed that the disciples would be delivered from the evil one (Jn. 17.15).
In yet another parallel, Nehemiah prayed that God would continue to “strengthen his hands” (6.9). Jesus not only prayed that he would be obedient to the end (Lk. 22.42-44), but that His church would endure, and He sent His Spirit to strengthen us (Lk. 16.7-11).
Having looked at the book of Nehemiah with a view to observing the parallels between Nehemiah and Christ, let us know go back and see what we can learn from this comparison.
Nehemiah was willing to leave the pleasures and comfort of the royal court to go to Jerusalem, and Jesus, left His eternal throne and glory to dwell with us and endure the cross. What are we willing to set aside for the sake of more time in prayer, seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God?
Both Nehemiah and Jesus viewed the needs of their generation through the eyes of the omnipotent God, Whose providence rules the world. Therefore, they were not constrained by seemingly insurmountable circumstances, but took on great tasks, and turned their world upside-down for God and His glory.
Both men repeatedly turned to God in prayer, just as we should. Nehemiah worshipped a large God, and thus he constantly went to the Lord in prayer. Hebrews presents Christ as always lifting us up to God and making intercession for us (7.25). Likewise, in 1 Thessalonians 5.17; Paul admonishes the Thessalonian church to follow this example and to pray without ceasing.
Our situations are not more dire, nor are our circumstances more daunting than what Nehemiah or Jesus faced. Our first and constant response to the difficult times in which we live must be to seek the Lord in prayer.
Some final thoughts: Our prayers should be grounded in Christ. We should approach our prayers as a means of submitting to the Lord’s will. Both Nehemiah and Christ deferred to the will of the will of God, and we can and must do the same.
We should anchor our prayers to the finished work of Christ, pleading with God to bring revival because of the work of Jesus, not our own works. Nehemiah foreshadowed this by asking God to remember his good works. Christ consummated this with His “It is finished.”
We should examine our prayer life to make sure we are constantly coming before the Lord in prayer, improving in the practice of praying without ceasing. And our prayers should be focused. We should look around us to see where “the gates are burned and the walls torn down.” This could be in our families, our communities, in politics, in our schools, and throughout our culture.
Two areas that stand out to me are the poor and needy and the persecuted Church. Both Nehemiah and Jesus prayed for the covenant community and we would do well to follow their examples.
As we endeavor to grow stronger in prayer, and to birth a movement of men at prayer, let’s learn as much as we can from men like Nehemiah, who point us to the Savior, in Whose strength alone we can pray as we should.
Ralph Lehman, Men at Prayer Coordinator
T. M. Moore, Principal
Prayer Resources for a Movement of Men at Prayer
“Men of the Church: A Solemn Call” can be downloaded for free by clicking this link. Hand this brief paper to every man you know, and urge them to join you 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.Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.