Summary: I’m no good at Praying (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Nehemiah chapter 1 verse 1 to chapter 2 verse 10
• It was the late American pastor and author Donald Barnhouse;
• Who stunned his congregation one Sunday by declaring; “Prayer changes nothing”.
• The church was packed full of people,
• Yet you could have heard a pin drop.
• Now his comment was deliberately designed to make folks think.
• The point he wanted to make was; “It is God who THROUGH prayer changes things!”
• I like the story of the 72 year old woman;
• Who went to bed one night and prayed this prayer;
• “Please God give me the skin like a teenager’s”
• The next morning she woke up covered in acne!
• A more series story is told about a particular region of Africa,
• Where the first converts to Christianity were very diligent about praying.
• In fact, the believers each had their own special place;
• Outside the village where they went to pray in solitude.
• The villagers reached these “prayer rooms”
• By using their own private footpaths through the brush.
• When grass began to grow over one of these trails,
• It was evident that the person to whom it belonged was not praying very much.
• Because these new Christians were concerned for each other’s spiritual welfare,
• A unique custom sprang up.
• When ever anyone noticed an overgrown “Prayer path,”
• He or she would go to the person and lovingly warn, “Friend, there’s grass on your path!”
We have recorded in Nehemiah chapter 1 & 2 some insights to help us pray better:
• Until I started preparing for this sermon;
• I never actually realised how much prayer pervades (saturates) this entire book!
• Prayer is one of the overriding themes of the book;
• It is the secret to Nehemiah’s success.
• The prayer we read in chapter 1 is the first of 12 different prayers recorded in the book.
• In fact the book begins with prayer in Persia and closes with prayer in Jerusalem.
Now your homework today is to read those 12 prayers:
• (Only take you about 15mins):
• You will see an incredible variety in his prayers;
• e.g. chapters 8 and 9 contain prayers that are filled with adoration.
• e.g. chapter 12 is full of thanksgiving;
• e.g. chapters 1 and 9 contain prayers of confession.
• e.g. chapters 1 and 2 contain prayers of Petition (requests).
• Those 12 prayers also contain prayers of anguish, joy, protection, dependence & commitment.
• Nehemiah is a book or rather a story of compassionate, persistent, personal & corporate prayer.
• As you read the book you will discover that prayer gives Nehemiah perspective;
• It also widens his horizons, sharpens his vision and dwarfs his anxieties.
So really if you want to get to grips with prayer:
• You ought to go home and at least read (better still study);
• The book of Nehemiah!
• (1st). The closest finger to you is the thumb.
• Pray for those that are closest to you. Pray for your parents and your brothers or sisters.
• (2nd). The next finger is called your index finger. It is used for pointing.
• Let this finger remind you to pray for those that point you in the right direction.
• Pray for your teachers at school, your Sunday School teacher, and your pastor.
• (3rd).The next finger is the tallest finger.
• This finger reminds us to pray for our leaders.
• Pray for the prime minister and other leaders in our government;
• And those who are leaders in our town.
• (4th). The fourth finger is the called the ring finger.
• Did you know that this is the weakest of all the fingers?
• Just ask any one who plays the piano and they will tell you that is true.
• Let this finger remind you to pray for those who are sick.
• (5). The next finger is the smallest finger.
• The Bible says, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought."
• Let the little finger remind you to pray for yourself.
• So the next time you are talking to God, and you can't think of anything to say,
• Let the "Five Finger Prayer" help you.
• If you don’t know who Nehemiah was let me just give you a bit of background info.
• In the year 586BC Babylon (was a world military super power);
• It had invaded Judah (Southern kingdom) and took away the Jewish people into captivity.
• They became slaves in a foreign land.
• They actually deported the people in three stages;
• During the third stage the Babylonians not only took the people,