Read Nehemiah’s prayer found in Nehemiah 1:5-11. What are the different components of the prayer? Why does he include himself in the prayer as those who are guilty?
1. God you are great and have mercy (Neh. 1:5).
2. Hear me (Neh. 1:6).
3. Confession of sins (Neh. 1:6-7).
4. Remember your promises (Neh. 1:8-9).
3. You have redeemed us (Neh. 1:10).
2. Hear me (Neh. 1:11).
1. God grant prosperity and mercy (Neh. 1:11).
Nehemiah’s prayer is a beautiful composition recounting God’s greatness, their own sinfulness, and concluding with a cry for help. The prayer resembles the prayer of Daniel in Daniel 9, and it is possible that Nehemiah was familiar with that prayer. It is noteworthy that Nehemiah doesn’t begin with a cry for help, but rather first states the truth about who God is, Great and Awesome. He also points out that God keeps His covenant and has mercy on those who love Him, as if to remind God that He has always been faithful and cannot now be any other way.
The prayer is in a special structure (depicted above) that centers on verse 8, where Nehemiah articulates God’s promises. Nehemiah says: “Remember!” In other words: Remember, God, that you promised that you will scatter us when we are unfaithful but that you also promised to bring us back and restore everything. Since the first one has happened, now it is time to fulfill the other because we are returning to You. Nehemiah is not afraid to claim God’s promises and to remind God of them. Of course, it is not that God doesn’t know or remember His promises. Instead, God takes pleasure in our willingness to claim His promises. He wants us to believe in them and thus speak them out loud to Him. By verbalizing what God has promised us, we can be strengthened in our own resolve to trust in those promises, especially at times when everything seems hopeless.
|What are some of God’s promises that you can claim for yourself right now? Why is it important never to give up claiming those promises? (After all, if you do give up, what’s left?)|