Daily Devotional Nehemiah 9:1–5
Several years ago, my wife and I were part of a new church in Kansas City. One of my favorite parts of this fledgling community was that each Sunday included the basic format we see in Nehemiah 9. We would spend time together in prayer, confession and repentance, the public reading of Scripture, and worship. There was a sermon, of course, and we know from earlier in this study that Ezra and other leaders put a high priority on helping people understand Scripture.
They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.
We read that the “Israelites gathered together” with outward signs of inward repentance (v. 1). They did not just say they were sorry— they demonstrated their repentance through wearing sackcloth, “putting dust on their heads,” and fasting (v. 1). What’s more, the people had “separated themselves from all foreigners” and were publicly confessing “their sins and the sins of their ancestors” (v. 2). Put another way, these people’s actions matched their words—they were not simply paying lip service. The next half of the day they spent partially in reading Scripture and partially in worship and even more confession of sin.
I don’t think this passage in Nehemiah is a manual for modern church services. (The services at my former church certainly didn’t go on all day like the one we read of here in Nehemiah!) But I do think they show us the value of turning our hearts toward the Lord regularly and corporately. I can tell you that I left services each week with a renewed heart for the Lord, because I had just spent a few hours confessing sin, reading Scripture, worshiping, and praying with other believers. Knowing I would be doing the same thing the next Sunday had a way of keeping me tethered to the Lord throughout the week.
>> Consider how you can incorporate these elements of prayer, confession and repentance, Scripture reading, and worship—all with other believers—into the regular pattern of your life. What might that look like for you?
Pray with Us
Thank You for the faithful friends and believers You have placed around us. As we cultivate relationships with them, please bless our efforts to honor You and encourage one another in the faith.