Nehemiah – A case study
Main text – Nehemiah chapter 1: 5 – 11 & Nehemiah chapter 2: 1 – 3
Following on from the news that Nehemiah had heard about his people in exile and about the fallen wall in Jerusalem, Nehemiah was deeply grieved and concerned. His emotions, behaviour and demeanour were low for several days.
1. He sat down and wept
2. He mourned for some days
3. He took upon fasting and praying
Here we can see the effect power and shift that occurs in prayer and Nehemiah went about this ‘strategically’ to say in a sense as there was a way in which he prayed that we can adopt.
Firstly, we acknowledge God for who He is. Giving thanks unto God for his love and existing covenant with his people in the book of Nehemiah. In the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, it starts with magnifying the name of the Father – ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name’ – this initial sentence is recognising and realising God in Heaven who knows and sees all things. By acknowledging God, you are drawing his attention to yourself, situation and calling upon Him to hear you. Nehemiah in the main text knows that he cannot change the circumstances which had befallen his people and the land. He knew to call upon the One who can save and restore!
Likewise, when we are faced with any situation, good or bad; we should acknowledge God by calling upon Him and acknowledging Him for who He is.
Secondly there is confession of sins; Nehemiah and the people had sinned. Before he made any requests, he admitted the sins of the people and confessed it out. This act shows us that Nehemiah is ‘human’ and we sin. He further asks for forgiveness to make a petition unto God thereafter. This shows a heart which is ready to accept fault and come unto God to be cleansed. He asks for forgiveness and acknowledges the wicked acts committed by the Israelites as well as his own household. We can adopt this into our prayer lives by confessing our sins unto God and he is faithful and just to blot them all out, so we appear right and blameless before God – 1 John 1:9-10.
Third way is to remind God of His promises and his Word: Psalm 138:2 tells us that God honours his Word above His name. By reminding God of His Word and promises, you are saying what you know he has said concerning you and aligning it with his perfect will for your life. Within the book of Nehemiah, we can see how he reminds God of the promise he made to his ancestors. He is bringing the Word of God back unto him. The scripture shows us that which is spoken by God shall surely come to pass. Speak the Word of God back unto Him, with faith and thanksgiving be rest assured that and He will surely bring it to pass.
Finally, we can see the power in the petition unto God: In verse 11 of Nehemiah chapter 1; it shows the conclusion of Nehemiah as he asks God to listen to his prayer and grant him success as he moves forward to seeing the King. Nehemiah was able to face the King and put in a request.
As Christians today, in any aspect or position of our lives (society, financial, mental, etc) we can make an impact whether GOOD or BAD. We have the choice and ultimately the final decision to use the position we have to bring change – positively or negatively. Nehemiah in this case study used his position to influence and have an impact by involving God in his everyday activities as he was the cupbearer to the King. He is asking God to bless him moving forward.
We too can do this by involving God in our everyday lives and activities through our prayers. Our father cares about every aspect of our lives and we have this confidence that if we ask in His name and according to His will for us, He would grant us our desires.
Nehemiah 2: 1 – 3 Nehemiah used his place of authority to change the state of his people and land.
Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the King Artaxerxes in his twentieth year. He had an important role as he was serving the King his drink within the Royal courts. This position carried significance as he was serving in the Royal household. He was serving the King. Traditionally, cupbearers protected the life of the King and their job was to detect poison within the fluids being undertaken by the Monarch.
For this reason, cupbearers were often among the king’s most trusted servants; hence Nehemiah used this position for the ‘greater good’!
1. Nehemiah used his place of authority to influence the effect of change for his people
2. His countenance and grievance for his people attracted the attention of the King
3. His prayer and fasting paved a way to grant him an audience before the King
Today, we can use our ‘societal’ position or even the influence we have wherever we find ourselves to benefit the Kingdom and spread the ‘Good News’.
Four Power points from Nehemiah’s Prayer:
• Acknowledge God
• Confessions of Sins
• Remind God of His Promises / Words
• Make your petitions and requests unto Him