Summary: As Christians, prayer is our number one responsibility.
True Value: Prayer
Text: Nehemiah 1:1-11
1. Illustration: Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray--to really pray. Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight--all through the day. Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word ’concern’ out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice. Robert E. Lee.
2. Prayer should not only be one of our highest values, but also our highest priority.
3. Leonard Revenhill, in his classic book, Why Revival Tarries, wrote "Poverty stricken as the church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere" (23).
4. There are many types of prayers. There are:
a. Help, Lord, I’m in trouble prayers
b. Forgive me, Lord, I blew it prayers
c. Come on, Lord, You promised prayers
d. Give us success, Lord, prayers
5. Read Nehemiah 1:1-11
Proposition: As Christians, prayer is our number one responsibility.
Transition: First, there are...
I. Help, Lord, I’m In Trouble Prayers (1-4)
A. Mourned, Fasted, and Prayed
1. Verse 1 begins with "These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah."
a. Outside of this book very little is know about Nehemiah.
b. We do know that he was the "cupbearer" of King Artaxerxes. It was his job to taste the King’s wine first so that he know it was not poisoned.
c. Being the cupbearer for the King was more than just a servants position, and it was actually a place of honor and responsibility.
d. However, he was not a priest or a prophet. He was just a working man who cared for his people, loved God, and believed in the power of prayer.
2. One day, his brother, and some other men who had just returned with some of the remnant who had gone to Jerusalem, came to see him and he asked them how things were going in Jerusalem.
a. Undoubtedly, he was very excited about the fact that some of the people had returned to Jerusalem to reestablish the city and rebuild what had been destroyed before the exile.
b. He was hoping to hear good news from them, but his hopes soon turned to horror.
3. Instead of telling him good news, they told him very bad news. They said, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
a. You see, when the returned to Jerusalem they encountered opposition, and the people of the land fought against them to keep them from rebuilding.
b. Jerusalem still lay in ruins from its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II 140 years earlier.
c. Most importantly, a city that had its walls and gates broken down was entirely vulnerable to outside aggression (Matthews, Chavalas, & Walton, 2000. The IVP Bible background commentary : Old Testament (electronic ed.) . InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL).
d. They couldn’t protect themselves, their families, or the Temple.
4. Nehemiah was beside himself. The text says, "When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven."
a. He was beyond sadness or depression, for this news tore him apart.
b. However, I want you to notice something very important about Nehemiah: he didn’t just wallow in self-pity but did the only thing he could do.
c. He fasted and prayed to the God of heaven.
d. You see, people of faith do get down and discouraged, but they also know how to deal with it. They go to the Lord in fasting and prayer.
e. Just like Jesus, they pray to their heavenly Father.
B. In Times of Trouble
1. Illustration: 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 all about me seemed insufficient for the day (Abraham Lincoln).