Monday, March 22, 2010

Nehemiah's Prayer

Nehemiah has just come to a startling revelation in the king's service in Babylon. His brother is fresh from the Land of Judah, the homeland, the Promised Land that once flowed richly with milk and honey with fresh news about the state of things there: The city is in "great trouble and disgrace." A vision of a re-newed city with secure walls begins to form in Nehemiah and with all he can muster he knows that he must approach the king and request a leave of absence from the king's service. No small thing. He has been in a place of weeping and mourning for his heart is truly broken - for the land of promise, for the whole people, for himself.

Before entering the king's presence with such a heavy heart and a heavier request, Nehemiah offers a prayer. It's an interesting one, and perhaps suggests a framework for our own way of praying, if not in every circumstance, at least in such similar moments. You can read it for yourself in Nehemiah 1:5-10. Here's what I see for whatever it is worth:

1. Affirmation of God’s love – "Great, Awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love..."
2. Request for God to be attentive – "let you ear be attentive and your eyes open… "
3. Confession of sins – for himself but for the sins of the whole nation, the whole people
4. Recalling of the Promise of God (to Moses) – Remember what you said to Moses?
5. Another Request for God to be attentive: Let your ear be attentive…
6. Request – “Give you servant success – today, specificly – “in the presence of this man.”