Summary: I’m no good at Praying (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

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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!

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