Summary: What does it mean to have a heart for prayer?
Webster’s dictionary defines prevailing as having superior force or influence. When we think of prayer as believers, as children of God do you describe your prayer life as having superior force or influence with God?
I believe one thing that will mark a person who has influence with men and influence with God is this: that person will be one who walks with greatness of prayer.
If we studied the great revivals or the turning point in a man’s life where that believer gave themselves completely to Jesus it is stamped with an event of significant, sustained prayer. No great awakening in America ever started w/o God’s people crying out to God. No saint ever became mighty for God w/o first crying out to God for forgiveness of sins.
Pastor Mark Bubeck a prayer warrior said greatness of prayer can be defined in 2 measurements:
1)Measured by what it does in the life of the one praying.
2)Measured by the visible movings of God in human affairs.
There was a man named John Hyde. His nickname was John “praying Hyde.” In 1911 he was returning to America from India in great weakness and painful illness, he stopped in England to rest and visit some fellow workers who had served in India with him. There he learned that evangelist, J. Wilbur Chapman was holding meetings in a place that seemed closed and very hard. Hyde felt constrained to take up prayer on behalf of the evangelist. Dr. Chapman explained what happened.
“At one of our missions in England the audience was extremely small, and results seemed impossible--but I received a note that an American missionary was coming to town and was going to pray God’s blessing upon our work. He was known as “praying Hyde.” Almost instantly the tide turned. The hall was packed and my first invitation meant 50 men for Jesus Christ. As we were leaving, I said Mr. Hyde, I want you to pray for me!”
He came to my room, turned the key in the door dropped on his knees--waited 5 minutes w/o a single syllable coming from his lips. I could hear my own heart thumping and beating! I felt the hot tears running down my face. I knew I was with God. Then with upturned face, down which tears were streaming, he said “Oh, God!”
The for 5 minutes at least, he was still again! Then when he knew he was walking with God his arm went around my shoulders and there came up from the depth of his heart such petitions for men as I have never heard before. When I rose from my knees that day, I knew what real prayer was!”
Of all the great prayers in the Bible, Nehemiah’s prayer is one of obvious greatness. Great prayer is ALWAYS A PRAYER FROM THE HEART! Usually we never learn to pray until it is Desperate prayer. This prayer, in my opinion, is the outline of great prevailing prayer.
Here in our text tonight we have a remnant of Jewish people who had returned to Jerusalem. They were in captivity and had been let go. In 536 BC Zerubbabel returned with 50,000 Jews and in 20 years had rebuilt the temple. In 457 BC there was a small revival under Ezra. Now it’s 445 BC and the people and city are in ruins. God was looking for someone who would be obedient and unite His people. God didn’t chose a king, a preacher, or even someone called into full time ministry--God chose Nehemiah, a church member who was, at that time, working for the king of Persia.
I. A Ready Report (v.1-3) Some men came and Nehemiah, because he had a heart for God, asked them how Jerusalem was doing. He loved God and when we love God we love God’s people. Not only that we are concerned for the work of the kingdom of God. Notice:
A. Condition of the Heart of the People--(v.3a) the people are in great affliction and reproach. Affliction in the Greek means adversity and distress coupled with evil. Reproach means shame. They were attacked Spiritually from satan suffering great adversity and they were living in shame from their plight. They were a laughing stock to the lost world around them.
Imagine the talk “You serve the one true God--Ha, yeah right, look at you in poverty, your homes and your God’s city is a mess.”
Could you imagine being so Spiritually depressed that your Spirit is at the breaking point? That’s where they were. Their hearts were broken.
B. Condition of the Heart of God--(v.3b) The Bible says here “the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.” Often times in the Bible when God speaks of the Jewish people, His chosen people, God refers to them figuratively as Jerusalem or Zion. The Bible says Ps 147:12 “Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.” The Bible also says Zech 2:7-8 "Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!" For this is what the LORD Almighty says: "After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you-- for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye--”