By Sandy Shaw
You can learn a lot about a person by the kind of prayer he prays, and the way in which he prays. For instance, a selfish prayer may indicate a selfish spirit.
Some people try to impress you with their prayers, and they may come over as arrogant and prideful.
Let’s look at this ‘model’ prayer in the book of Nehemiah – Chapter 1.
Remember Nehemiah? When he first heard about the condition of Jerusalem, with its walls broken down and gates burned, he prayed.
This was not just a casual prayer. Instead, it gives us a pattern for successful praying. You almost have to be a special type of person to pray like this.
If you need to know how to pray better, and with a deeper reality, study the book of Nehemiah. Pay particular attention to this prayer.
Base your request on God’s character
Pray like you know God will answer you – “I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who You are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!”
Nehemiah approaches God and says, “God, I want you to do something back in Jerusalem.”
“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.”
Nehemiah said three things about God:
You are great – that’s God’s position.
You are awesome – that shows God’s power.
You keep your promises – that’s God’s covenant.
The first thing Nehemiah does is acknowledge who God is – that’s what praise is.
Acknowledge who God is and His greatness. Nehemiah starts off by getting the right perspective.
As you pray, say, “God, I want you to answer this prayer because of who You are. You’ve given us all of these things – all these promises. You are a faithful God, a loving God, a merciful God.” Base your request on God’s character.
Confess the sin in your life
After Nehemiah based his prayer on God’s character, he confessed his sins. He says, “We have sinned.” Look at how many times he uses the words “I” and “we.”
He says, “I confess… myself… my father’s house… we have acted wickedly… we have not obeyed.”
It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that the Israelites went into captivity – that was 70 years earlier, before Nehemiah had even been born. He was most likely born in captivity, in Babylon, yet he includes himself in the national sins. He says, “I have been a part of the problem.”
When was the last time you confessed the sins of the nation? Or the sins of your family? Or your church? Or your friends? We don’t think that way. We’re very individualistic.
Our society has taught us we’re only responsible for ourselves, and that’s just not true! You are your brother’s keeper. We are all in this together.
Leaders are willing to accept the blame. If you want to be a leader, be prepared to accept the blame.
Claim the promises of God
Nehemiah prays to the Lord God and says, “I want you to remember what you told your servant Moses.” Can you imagine saying ‘REMEMBER’ to God? He is reminding God what He has said in the past. All through the Bible you will find
God’s people reminding God about what He said He wants to do. David did it. Abraham did it. Moses did it.
All the prophets did it: “God, I want to remind you of one of your promises.”
Does God have to be reminded? No.
Does God forget what He has promised? No. Then why do we do this? It helps us remember what God has promised.
Nothing pleases God more that when you remind God of one of his promises.
Do children ever forget a promise? Never!
So you have to be very careful about making them. The Bible says we’re imperfect fathers, and if we imperfect fathers know that we need to fulfil our promises to our children, how much more does a perfect Father, a Heavenly Father, intend to keep the promises He has made in His Word?
Be very specific in what you ask for
If you want specific answers to prayer, you need to make specific requests. If your prayers are general, how will you know if they are answered?
Nehemiah is not hesitant to pray for success. He’s very bold in his praying. Have you ever prayed, “Lord, make me successful!” If you haven’t, why haven’t you?
What is the alternative? A failure? There is nothing wrong with praying for success if what you’re doing is ultimately for the glory of God.
Pray boldly. Pray that God will make you successful in life, for the glory of God.
That’s what Nehemiah did. This is a valid prayer: Give me success!
If I can help you in this area do contact me through the excellent facility on this website.
If I can’t ask God to bless what I’m doing, then I’d better start doing something else.
If you can’t ask God to make you a success at what you’re doing, you should be doing something else. God doesn’t want you to waste your life.
“Lord God – help me not to waste my life. Help me to give myself to prayer. Let me see how it is essential and so necessary. Give me the motivation and desire to deepen my fellowship with You – our Creator God. Help me at this critical time in our nation – and throughout the world. I ask this in Jesus Name. Amen.”
Sandy Shaw is Pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship, Chaplain at Inverness Prison, and Nairn Academy, and serves on The Children’s Panel in Scotland, and has travelled extensively over these past years teaching, speaking, in America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, making 12 visits to Israel conducting Tours and Pilgrimages, and most recently in Uganda and Kenya, ministering at Pastors and Leaders Seminars, in the poor areas surrounding Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. He broadcasts regularly on WSHO radio out of New Orleans, and writes a weekly commentary at http://www.studylight.org entitled “Word from Scotland” on various biblical themes, as well as a weekly newspaper column. His M.A. and B.D. degrees are from The University of Edinburgh, and he continues to run and exercise regularly to maintain a level of physical fitness.