Summary: Keys to the power of prayer from Nehemiah chapter one
PLUGGING INTO POWER
Nehemiah Chapter 1
Back street in London is an old powerhouse that once shook all of England. You might be surprised at its size, no larger than a small bedroom. No generators, no nuclear reactors, just plain desk, lamp, old Greek Testament. Prayer room of John Wesley - shook the world with power.
ILLUSTRATION Little Boy Praying:
Had a test today in geography.
Praying that the capital of Iowa is Tokyo.
Lincoln: "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of those about me seemed insufficient for the day."
When is the last time you really prayed?
Born in captivity, of the tribe of Judah. His father as an unknown. Sixty years earlier his people had been pulled out of Jerusalem by Babyloni-ans. Raised among the decadence and wealth of the capitol of Babylon, the fabled city of SUSA.
A cup bearer is a combination of prime minister and "master of ceremonies" rolled into one office. Kings lived in isolation (intrigue and assas-sination a threat). They gravitate to wise and trusted men around them. He tested food, guarded sleeping quarters and would be general adviser and confident of the King.
THE VISIT OF HIS BROTHER
His brother Hanani came to see him in the month of Chislev (Novem-ber /December) in the twentieth year of the King Artaxerxes (445 B.C.).
BAD NEWS HANANI
Instead of seeing half full, sees half empty.
The kind of guy who can hardly wait for the future so he can look back on it with regret.
Every time smells flowers, looks around for the funeral.
Also, it is impossible to be truly prayerful and pessimistic at same time.
When Nehemiah asked about Jerusalem he received the disheartening news. The walls are still down. The spirit is down. The city is defenseless. Few lives there (no wonder!).
HOW GET IN THAT CONDITION: NEHEMIAH IN GENERAL HISTORY
Review how Kingdoms divided after Solomon. In 722 the northern Kingdom finally collapses under the Assyrians. By this time they were scat-tered, and many had married pagans, compromised their faith and caused the Jews continually problems. Since the chief city in that area was SAMARIA these were soon called SAMARITANS
The Southern Kingdom (Judah [and Benjamin]) survived but failed to learn. Eventually they were overrun by the Babylonians. Unlike the Assyr-ians, however, the Babylonians did not seek to destroy their national identity. They allowed them to stay together, worship God (usually). During the seven-ty years they were in "captivity" Babylon itself was overrun by the combined forces of the Medes and the Persians. King Cyrus, the new ruler, gave per-mission for some to return to Jerusalem.
Several groups returned over a period of fifteen years. The word on rebuilding was begun, but never finished.
Finally, during the reign of Artaxerces 1st Nehemiah came to Jerusalem. Morale was low. Wall was down. Rich exploiting the poor. Economic depression. Spiritual ignorance.
KNOWING THE NEED
Nehemiah was in Babylon, he felt powerless to help his people He turned to God as the only answer. All prayer must begin with knowledge of need. Alan Redpath (Victorious Christian Service Revell, 1958), "Much of our praying is just asking God to bless some folks that are ill, and to keep us plugging along. But prayer is not merely prattle: it is warfare."
Nehemiah met a pessimist, depressing person who loves to tell it like it is as long as it is bad.
But when the outlook is bad, try the uplook.
"Jehovah, God of heaven, the great and awesome God!"
The greater God becomes, the smaller his problem becomes. He begins with praise, expanding mind and faith in the presence of the all power-ful Creator of the Universe.
Praise of God’s attributes: character. "keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love Him and keep His commandments." Gives thanks even the midst of captivity. Does not let circumstances depress his praise.
ILLUSTRATION - LINCOLN
Toward end of Civil War Lincoln was seeing his usually endless stream of visitors on Thursday afternoon. The next one who entered was an elderly woman. "What may I do for you, Madam?" She put a basket on the desk in the oval office: "Mr. President, I am sorry to bother you. I do not even have any favor to ask of you. I am just so thankful for what you have done for our republic that I baked these cookies and wanted you and Mrs. Lincoln to have them." Silence. Tears trickled down the gaunt tired face of the 16th President. In nearly four years of toil and labor, she was the first who came just to say thanks.
APPLICATION - PRAISE GOD - PRACTICE PRAISE!!