Daily Devotional Nehemiah 1:4–11
I’ve never read Judy Blume’s book Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, but time and again I’ve thought of that title as I poured out prayers that felt like they got no further than the ceiling. Did God hear me?
Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying.
These eight verses in Nehemiah offer us a lesson on prayer. First, Nehemiah teaches that we should pray—even when we are sad or mourning (v. 4). God doesn’t want to hear from us only when things are going well!
Second, just like Jesus taught the disciples, prayer begins with worship and submission to the Lord. In Nehemiah’s words, God is “the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (v. 5). Third, Nehemiah asks God to hear him, making his requests known to God (v. 6; Phil. 4:6).
Fourth, prayer should include clear and honest confession and repentance (vv. 6–7). Nehemiah confesses “the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.” There is no “spin” here, no attempt to make himself look better.
Finally, prayers should be saturated with Scripture—Nehemiah draws on an earlier passage of the Bible to ground his prayers in who God is and what He has promised. Doing this is no guarantee that God will grant your request, but this prayer is a model for our benefit and edification.
In the very last verse, we are given Nehemiah’s profession. He “was cupbearer to the king” (v. 11). This was traditionally an office of high rank whose job was to pour and serve drinks at the king’s table. The king placed a high level of trust in him.
>> It is often helpful to use Scripture to guide our prayers. You can even pray aloud a portion of Scripture making it personal and specific to your situation. Nehemiah’s prayer in verses 5–11 is an excellent one to try.
Pray with Us
“LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God...let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant” (Neh. 1:5, 11). Please grant us growth in our love for You. Make us more like You.