How Nehemiah Taught Me to Pray
I'm going to be entirely honest with you, I am not a prayer warrior by any stretch of the imagination. Often when I pray I start off well and about 17 seconds in I've completely lost my trail of thought and have started about 4 new conversations with God. I often quick prayers throughout the day but struggle to set aside a time of prayer that I really connect with God. My less than stellar prayer life often left me feeling convicted and wanting to go deeper.
I'm not saying quick prayers and petitions throughout the day that we make are wrong, we see these often in Scripture (especially in Nehemiah). I feel confident in saying that those quick prayers aren't enough to sustain our relationship with God. If I am looking to go deeper in a relationship with anyone I make time to spend time getting to know them and communicate with them, and our relationship with God is no different.
While I was wrestling with this desire to go deeper in prayer I heard a sermon on Nehemiah 1. Nehemiah 1 contains a prayer that I had read numerous times but I hadn't taken time to delve into. The pastor talked about Nehemiah's prayer being pulled out of Deuteronomy. So I did a bit of studying and found that he was right, and it blew my mind. If you don't believe me, look at the list of parallels below.
1. Nehemiah 1:5 1. Deuteronomy 7:9
2. Nehemiah 1:6b - 8 2. Deuteronomy 4:25 - 28
3. Nehemiah 1:9 3. Deuteronomy 4:29 - 30
4. Nehemiah 1:10 - 11 4. Deuteronomy 4:31
Nehemiah has used Scripture to stay focused in his prayer, and to keep himself from recreating God in his image. God will never go back on his word, He has yet to break a promise, so if God says no to something we pray for it's not because there is something wrong with God. This is a practice that I have found myself referring to often, and I can say that it has helped my prayer life greatly. It has helped me not only stay more focussed in prayer, but it has also kept me from becoming disillusioned with who God is. If we live with the thought that God is there to make our wishes come through, we will have a very disappointing prayer life. Using God's word as a guide to our prayers keeps us from projecting our thoughts on God's character.
If we don't have a healthy prayer life we won't get to experience the fullness of our relationship with Christ. I'm not saying that struggling with prayer means you're not saved, but that you aren't enjoying the fullness of life Jesus promised us. I want to challenge you to pray using Scripture as your guide, and watch as your relationship with God flourishes.
May your relationship with Christ grow as you dig deeper into your relationship with Him through prayer, service, and study.