Summary: Part 3 and the last in a series of sermons studying Nehemiah's prayer life, as he set about the great task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. The band Starship sang, 'We built this city on rock 'n roll'' but Nehemiah built the city walls on prayer!
Building a City on Prayer - Part 3
So far in this series, we have discussed the following prayer strategies of Nehemiah.
He prayed fervently
He focused on the greatness of the One he was praying to
He prayed for favor
He prayed the promises of God
He prayed against resistance
He prayed for strength
He personalized his prayers
Many years ago, the music band Starship recorded a hit song called ‘We built this city on rock ‘n roll’. However, Nehemiah built the walls
of Jerusalem on prayer, and through the guidance, wisdom and courage he received as a result of his prayers.
In this concluding post, we will deal with 3 more pointers from Nehemiah’s prayer life. They are:
1) Nehemiah prayed in repentance and intercession
In 1:6, Nehemiah prays, “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against You”. This and the verse that follows, shows a cry of deep repentance on behalf of his Nation.
Whether we are praying for ourselves, or interceding for our church and Nation, there’s always a place for repentance that comes by humbling ourselves in God’s presence. We see this same attitude in King Jehoshaphat when facing a national disaster (2 Chronicles 20:2-12). God sometimes sends staggering odds against us to drive us to our knees!
A quote says,‘Bruised knees and worn-out trousers open the windows of heaven’.
Illustration – The book ‘Revival and the Church’, identifies William Burns of Scotland and the revival in that country as follows. ‘As a young man of 23, he had read the scriptures on his knees, pleaded on his knees and believed on his knees. All Scotland heard the news that the sky was no longer brass. The windows of heaven were opened”.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God told Solomon, “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land’
It’s time for the body of Christ to seek the Lord afresh with humility and repentance, if we are to see revival break into our Nations and across the world. John Bunyan said, ‘In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart’
2) Nehemiah prayed against spiritual apathy
He consistently fought against spiritual apathy as seen in Chapters 5, 9, 13 and in between. Not only did he pray, but he led by example. The result was a powerful awakening among the people! In 13:14, Nehemiah says, “Remember me for this O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services”. He makes similar statements in verses 22, 29 and 31 of the same chapter. These were actually prayers on behalf of the reforms he started!
3) Nehemiah prayed for success (1:11)
Nehemiah prayed “Give your servant success today…” (1:11). Nehemiah prayed for success and yes, we can too. God gave Nehemiah amazing success and He wants to do the same for us. The same prayer for success was prayed by Abraham’s chief servant when he went looking for a bride for Isaac (Genesis 24:12), and God answered his cry.
In chapter 2:4, when the king asked Nehemiah what help he wanted, it is said that Nehemiah prayed (a quick prayer) to God, before he answered. He asked for favor, which I am sure included success in his endeavor.
What area in your life do you need success today? Have you been praying about it? Are you willing to continue praying till God comes through? John Wesley said, ‘I have so much to do that I must spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it (successfully?)’
Illustration – The church I serve in, in Sri Lanka, was built on a vision given to its Founder Pastor Dr. Colton Wickramaratne. As he remained faithful to the vision given, God gave much success to the ministry of Peoples Church. Today, the Sunday attendance averages over 4000 weekly and the church has established missions works all over Sri Lanka and overseas too. All glory be to Jesus!
I trust you have been blessed by the prayer pointers taken from Nehemiah’s life (Part 1-3). Clearly, with God’s help, he was responsible for ‘Building a City on Prayer’.
In closing, let’s once again look at the results of Nehemiah’s work. Let me repeat my quote from the NIV Study Bible shown in part 1 of this series.
‘The walls that lay in ruins for nearly a century and a half, were rebuilt in less than two months, once the people were galvanized into action by Nehemiah’s leadership’ (page 703 - unquote). To be exact, it was done in just 52 days!!!
What will you build for Jesus? May the blessing of God strengthen your efforts!!