Lessons on Prayer from Nehemiah

Emily van Rijn

 A while back I was reading through the story of Nehemiah (chapter 1-2). I noticed a lot of lessons on prayer that we can learn from him.
1. He cared about others.
He was burdened about the Jews in Jerusalem. In a way it wasn’t his own problem. It wasn’t affecting his life. But he cared about others beside himself.
2. When he was burdened and upset, he took it all to the only One who can really help.
3. He fasted.
4. His prayer was very respectful.
5. He was humble.
He didn’t play the blame game. He took the blame. I found this hard to understand. How can you take the blame for something you haven’t necessarily done? But I heard someone explain it this way, “It was in his heart.” We may not do certain sins, yet we have the same sinful heart. So we can be humble when we pray.
6. He claimed God’s promises.
7. He was very earnest.
“O LORD, I beseech thee…”
8. Delays are not denials.
It took about four months before he saw any answer. Sometimes we have to wait a long time till  our prayers are answered.
9. The answer may not come the way we expect.
I’m not sure how Nehemiah was expecting an answer, but from his reaction to the king’s question, I’m guessing it wasn’t this way. He was scared!
“Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,”
10. He took the opportunity.
Even though Nehemiah was scared, he saw and took the opportunity. Sometimes when we pray, we have to take opportunities when we see them. We don’t always know for sure if they are the answer, but we need to take the opportunity.
11. He prayed again.
 “Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.”
He was prayerful the whole way through. We need to stay close to God in prayer.
12. He was prepared.
He must have figured things out for him to have a quick answer for the king. He was ready and waiting. He was expecting an answer to his prayer.
13. He had self-control and patience.
For four months he had waited. He didn’t ask the king until it was the right time. Even after he was at Jerusalem he was still slow to tell everyone.
 “And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.”
14. God put the idea/desire into his heart.
“And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.”
Sometimes our desires are put into our heart by God. If they’ve come from God, He will fulfill them. Though sometimes he may fulfill them through someone else, like Solomon building the temple for David.
 Psalm 37: 4 says “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” 
15. There was opposition.

If you’re like me, there’s lots you can learn about prayer from Nehemiah!

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