1)"O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, Who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and obey His commands, let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying . . . 2) I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against You . . . 3) Remember the instruction You gave Your servant Moses . . . 'if you return to me and obey My commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for My Name' . . . 4) O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of this Your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering Your Name. Give Your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.' I was a cupbearer to the king." ~selected verses from Nehemiah 1:5-11 (*see below)
"He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think." ~Brother Lawrence; The Practice of the Presence of God
Let me start off by saying that I DO NOT believe that there is some "magic" way to pray that will somehow make God into a genie who is compelled to answer our prayers. I'm not that ignorant, nor am I that bold.
I have prayed very meaningful prayers that have been immediately answered, often-times not knowing what to pray for or what to say quickly enough. They usually go something like this:
"GOD, PLEASE HELP ME!"
"LORD, PLEASE HELP THEM!"
Simple and direct. Both of these prayers are highly effective and I recommend them in times of emergency. :-)
However, we DO NOT have to expound the most eloquent, King James prayers. God just wants His children to pray ~ to talk to Him as often as possible. Like any parent, He loves us and wants to talk . . . and REALLY appreciates it when we listen.
But . . . God's Word, the Bible, does give us "models," if you will, of how we might pray from both Jesus and Nehemiah. For this devotion, however, we will look at Nehemiah's prayer.
It should be the most natural thing in the world for those of us who are born again Christians, to call upon the Name of the Lord and offer Him praise. Praise for how utterly, incomprehensively amazing and HOLY that He is. That THE ONE AND ONLY GOD should know who we are, should have sent His One and Only Son, Jesus, to shed His blood as a ransom and eternal payment for our sins. That the Creator of all knows and loves us. That every good thing we have ~ whether material or talents ~ has come from His loving hand. A world that is over-all beautiful, repeats it's seasons, day and night, plants that grow, animals to enjoy as pets and for work have ALL come from His hand. Health and the ability to work, it's ALL from Him. How can we NOT praise Him?
2) CONFESS OUR SINS
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." ~1 John 1:9
This "exercise" isn't for God, but for us. Just as in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God asked Adam, "Where are you?" God most certainly knew where Adam and Eve were, He wanted THEM to know where THEY were: lost in their sin.
As are we.
There are days when I feel like I sin in some way ~ whether in thought or deed ~ with every breath I take. I am, by nature of this fallen world, a sinful creature. But praise be to our wonderful God, that through His Son, Jesus Christ, we can have forgiveness in His Name. We have a way out.
3) REMIND GOD OF HIS PROMISES
Once again, this "exercise" isn't for God, but for us. God knows what He has promised us, could it be that He wants us to know and understand His promises? Repetition and remembrance helps us to be aware, thankful and remember what God has promised. WE are the ones who need to remember that when God makes a promise in His Word, that "He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion . . . " (Phil. 1:6)
4) BE SPECIFIC IN PRAYER
Nehemiah needed favor from the king and he asked God specifically for it. Elijah asked specifically for God to open his servant's eyes so that "he may see . . . the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." (2 Kings 6:17) Solomon realized his great need to wisely rule his people and humbly asked specifically for wisdom and discernment and it was given to him. (1 Kings 3:7-9)
Make no doubt that God knows what we need before and even more completely than we do. I think He wants us to asked specifically so that WE will understand the depths of our requests.
And something else that strikes me about this passage of Scripture ~ "I was cupbearer to the king."
Nehemiah knew his humble estate both before God and before the king he was about to petition. When we go before our God, even though He is a Friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19), HE IS STILL GOD and not your Buddy, He deserves our reverence and humility.
Once again, there is no "magic" formula when it comes to prayer ~ pray the way God has led you ~ but we do have some mighty impressive examples of how to pray more effectively.
Blessings from Ohio . . . Kim<><