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Nehemiah's Prayer of Compassion - Nehemiah 1:5-11

Posted on January 20, 2019

Nehemiah’s Prayer of Compassion

Nehemiah 1:5 – 11

Scripture Reading

Nehemiah 1:5 – 11

5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.

Introduction: The purpose of prayer

  • Adore our Heavenly Father and give Him the honor and praise He is so worthy of and deserving of
  • To share our gratitude and thanksgiving to God for all He is and all He has done for us and all He has done through us.
  • To understand and be in tune with the heart of God. To help my heart match the heart of God
  • To change us. To take us from where we are with our selfish and finite thoughts and to receive the will of God and walk in the grace God gives us with His guidance
  • To illuminate the Word of God to us so we can understand it, apply it and obey it.
  • To petition God for our personal needs and the needs of others. To intercede on behalf of others so that God will pour out His healing, His grace, the gift of repentance, a way to guide others, His mercy, etc.

Quote: “Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” ― Samuel Chadwick

“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God” – William Carey – Father of missions

“Prayer is not the preparation for the work, it is the work” - Oswald Chambers

“Nothing of eternal value is ever accomplished apart from prayer” – Jerry Falwell

Purpose: Every Christ follower must come to God alone for sustaining grace and prayers of dependence as the daily norm of the Christian life.

Transition: Let’s look at Nehemiah’s heartfelt prayer of compassion to Almighty God.

Review

Nehemiah cared enough to ask– 1:1-3

Nehemiah 1:1-3

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”

  • The lovefor his people
    • Nehemiah’s name means Jehovah Comforts. Our God is a God of action when it comes to meeting needs

Illustration: Sanctity of Life Sunday – Women’s Choice

  • How committed are you to life?
  • How committed are you to the fact that many, many of the people around us are going to spend eternity in hell without Jesus?
  • For some without hearing the Gospel in a clear and concise way?

Illustration of the Man on the Beach / Starfish

 

  • The understandingof the need of his people
    • Be a student of the culture around you
    • Do something to make a difference in our community outside of church
      • Pray at City Council meetings
      • SCC – spare time
      • Offer to be a chaplain on the Bettendorf Police Force
      • See me and I will get you connected with a place to volunteer
  • Be a student of the people at your bank, check out people at HyVee or wherever you shop (Dollar General), where you get gas.
  • Network with other Christians, churches and parachurch groups in the QCA.
  • Use the normal opportunities of life and the intersection of people to encourage and be a light for Christ and you never know what conversations will open up.

Illustration: Marilyn Manson

Application: Is our first response to a need for our neighbors and God’s Kingdom compassion?

Nehemiah cared enough to weep – 1:4

Nehemiah 1:4

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

  • He despaired over the ruins

Illustration: Thomas Andrew Dorsey was a black jazz musician from Atlanta. In the twenties he gained a certain amount of notoriety as the composer of jazz tunes with suggestive lyrics, but he gave all that up in 1926 to concentrate exclusively on spiritual music. "Peace in the Valley" is one of his best-known songs, but there is a story behind his most famous song that deserves to be told.

In 1932 the times were hard for Dorsey. Just trying to survive the depression years as a working musician meant tough sledding. On top of that, his music was not accepted by many people. Some said it was much too worldly-the devil’s music, they called it. Many years later Dorsey could laugh about it. He said, "I got kicked out of some of the best churches in the land." But the real kick in the teeth came one night in St. Louis when he received a telegram informing him that his pregnant wife had died suddenly.

Dorsey was so filled with grief that his faith was shaken to the roots, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, he turned to the discipline he knew best-music. In the midst of agony, he wrote the following lyrics:

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light; Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.

If you live long enough, you will experience heartache, disappointment, and sheer helplessness. The Lord is our most precious resource in those hours of trauma. "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble (Psalm 9:9). Tom Dorsey understood that. His song was originally written as a way of coping with his personal pain, but even today it continues to bless thousands of others when they pass through times of hardship.

  • What are the ruins in your life?
  • What are the deep, deep regrets that you struggle with?
  • What is the point of grief that you are living with?
  • Where is the emotional and physical pain in your life right now?
  • What has brought you to the point of hopelessness and despair at times in your life?
  • Is your soul weary?

Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

2 Corinthians 4:16

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

  • He determined to feel what God felt for His people.

Illustration: Concern, Care, Compassion and Commitment – Mark 2:1-12

  • God is a person of action when it comes to meeting the needs of people.
  • It all begins with a broken heart and a burden for those in need
  • On Thursday, I received a text from Bob Larson as we were about to pray that Dick Spencer, Becky’s step dad had gone on to be with the Lord.
  • It conjures up within me the feeling of when my mom and dad passed away and the hole that is still there with their loss.
  • Experiencing those personal losses helps me to empathize and sympathize (putting ourselves in their shoes) with those who have had loss in their lives.
  • Nehemiah, in his mind’s eye could see his fellow kinsman struggling daily to survive and scavenger for the basic needs of life all the while he was in the palace with the king and it grieved his heart.

Application: Do we comfort those by the comfort we have received by the Holy Spirit?

Transition: How is our prayer lives? Do we get past the daily prayers and pray relational prayers to God? Let’s listen in on Nehemiah’s prayer

Nehemiah cared enough to pray – 1:5-10

  • He acknowledged the greatness of God – 1:5-6a

Nehemiah 1:5-6a

5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open.

  • This is the first of twelve times Nehemiah prayed as recorded in this book
  • To really understand how to pray, you need first to remind yourself consistently of who the God is you are praying to.
  • Nehemiah was praying God’s thoughts and God’s promises as He prayed. God promised to care for and bless His people as Nehemiah is reminding God.
  • Nehemiah faced a situation he knew he could not solve by himself. But he also knew that with God all things are possible

 Jeremiah 32:17

17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

  • Nehemiah began his prayer by acknowledging that fact: O LORD, God of heaven (cf. Neh. 1:4), the great and awesome God (cf. 4:14; 9:32).
  • “LORD” (Yahweh) speaks of His covenant relationship to Israel,
  • “God of heaven” refers to His sovereignty, and the words “great and awesome” are mindful of His power and majesty. Surely such a God could answer Nehemiah’s prayer. As the “LORD” He keeps His covenant of love (ḥeseḏ, “loyal love “) with those who love … and obey Him.

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  • Nehemiah rehearsed the greatness of God
  • One way to take on despair and ruin is to praise your way out of discouragement.
  • The greatness of God – Adoration / Praise / Reflection on who God is
    • Elohim – incredible power and might
    • Abba – Daddy – Father
    • Yahweh Yireh means “The Lord Will Provide”
    • Yahweh Nissi means “The Lord Is My Banner” – This is the name of God that proclaims His protection, leadership, and deliverance for His people
    • Jehovah Rapha means "Healer, the Lord who heals you" – This name brings so much comfort and hope to many of us who have prayed for healing and deliverance from disease, illness, brokenness, or painful circumstances.
    • Yahweh Shalom means “The Lord Is Peace” – God is the only One able to give us the peace that passes all of our own understanding.

Illustration: Seeing things from our vantage point – street view / Seeing things from God’s vantage point – view from God’s throne

Quote: “Money is really worth no more than as it can be used to accomplish the Lord's work. Life is worth as much as it is spent for the Lord's service.” ― George Muller, The Autobiography of George Muller

Quote: Clarence reveals himself as an angel. George Bailey” You don’t happen to have 8,000 dollars, do you?

Clarence: Oh, no, no. We don't use money in heaven.

George: Oh, that's right, I keep forgetting. Comes in pretty handy down here, bub.

  • Sometimes we lose the eternal perspective and forget about the resources we have in Christ.

Take a moment to reflect in your heart on the greatness of God (Pause)

 

  • He cried out in desperation for God
    • Nehemiah is begging God to listen to him. Do we pray as if we have God’s ear?
    • Do we pray as if our spiritual and even our physical life so depended on God to come and meet us where we are?
    • Do we pray honest and transparent prayers like David in the psalms?
    • Look how Jesus responds to a man in despair over his child.

Mark 9:20 - 27

20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

Matthew 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Matthew 6:11

Give us this day our daily bread,

  • Are we crying out daily in desperation to God?
    • Future Grace based on the faithfulness of God from past grace
    • Looking beyond the circumstances to the hand of God
    • Trusting him for the impossible on a daily basis
    • “I believe, help my unbelief”.

Quote: “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.” ― George Mueller

Take a moment in silent prayer and talk with God about what are you desperate about in your life to bring it to God? (Pause)

 

  • He acknowledged the sin of his people and himself – 1:6b – 7

Nehemiah 1:6b – 7

To hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses

  • Much like Isaiah / much like David
  • No pretense but full confession
  • Confession is agreeing with God about your sin without excuses.
  • Nehemiah petitioned God for the Jewish people. He included himself in this prayer by using we in verses 6- 7 three times.
  • He shows his humility by using the word servant to describe the people of Israel and Moses.
  • Do we pray over our sin as we talked about two weeks ago about how easily we sin and how easily we are deceived by our heart and emotions?
  • Are we honest with God about our sin?
    • How about the sins of our nation – homosexuality / abortion
    • How have we escaped as a nation the judgment of God like other nations we read about in history and especially the OT?
  • What are the personal sins, the sins that repeat it themselves over and over again that you have a hard time gaining victory over?

Take a moment and pray for your sin that keeps working in your life and for the sins of our nation asking God to forgive us and heal our land. (Pause)

 

  • He acknowledged the desperate plea to intervene. - 1:8-10

Nehemiah 1:8-10

8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.

  • Nehemiah is asking God to step in and do something in this desperate time
  • Nehemiah is appealing to how God worked faithfully in Israel’s past through the words of Moses.
  • Nehemiah is reminding God of His covenant of love for His chosen people.

Nehemiah 1:5

5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,  

Application: In our time of need do we invite God to intervene in the process?

Transition:

Nehemiah cared enough to volunteer– 1:11

Nehemiah 1:11

O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.

  • He was willingto fulfill the vision
    • Humanly speaking only one person could make it possible for Nehemiah to help the Jews in Jerusalem—the king he served. Years earlier, Artaxerxes had issued a decree to stop the construction work in Jerusalem (Ezra 4:21; see comments on Neh. 1:1–3), and he was the only one who could reverse that order. That is why Nehemiah prayed specifically, Give Your servant (cf. v. 6) success today by granting him favor (lit., “compassion”) in the presence of this man. Nehemiah was referring of course to King Artaxerxes (cf. 2:1). A favorable relationship with the king could open the door for his petition.

 

  • He was willing to take a riskto fulfill the vision
    • As the king’s cupbearer, Nehemiah was responsible for tasting the wine before serving it to the king to be sure it was not poisoned. Nehemiah therefore had frequent access to the king.
    • For Esther, she risked her life if she came before the king and he did not want to see her. He could banish her from his presence for life or have her executed.

 

  • He was willing to take the lead to fulfill the vision

Quote: “Great leaders are not only believing people who obey the Lord and courageously move ahead, but they also challenge others to go with them. You can’t be a true leader unless you have followers, and Nehemiah was able to enlist others to help him do the work” - Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Determined (p. 21). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

  • As we will see, Nehemiah did not want to just be a participant to fulfill God’s vision for Jerusalem and the restoration of His people but Nehemiah was willing to be the leader, the point person.
  • Leadership entails making a huge commitment
    • With the benefits come the responsibility as a leader
    • Deal with people
    • Deal with criticism
    • Deal with building a unified team and keep them focused on the vision.
    • Driven by the need to fulfill what God wanted the Jewish people to do whether they enjoyed the process or not.
  • I am thankful for the people who have stepped up as leaders in this church and who are training and stepping up for leadership in this church. We need you.
  • We need the church family to stand behind in prayer, words of encouragement as never before to help our leaders have confidence and support as they seek God in leading this church.
  • If you see a need in this church, please be willing to be part of the solution and help us!!
  • The next man up – sports team and injuries.
  • Nehemiah wisely set the example for us as to what to do when we are presented with an overwhelming need
    • First, he considered the problem
    • Second, he prayed and fasted
    • Then he sought the face of God for direction as to what to do next.
    • He then allowed God by listening lay out the vision for Nehemiah.
  • We too often go to work and pray later about what God wants us to do.

Application: Are we willing to do our part to help solve the need?

Commitment Card – Talk about it

Key Thought: Will you join the team to rise up and build!!

Questions to Ponder this Week

  1. When was the last time you came to God desperate for Him to touch your heart or answer your prayer?
  2. When was the last time you spent an extended in prayer to seek hard after God?
  3. When your name is called to volunteer, will you respond to service motivated by your love for Christ?