Nehemiah’s Prayer – Supplication or Intercession?
I have been teaching on features of prayer of supplication. But this morning while I was washing dishes the Holy Ghost impressed on my heart to write about Nehemiah’s prayer.
His petition to the Lord shows the qualities that all effective supplications possess.
My aim with this article is to reveal the main and common features of all prayers of supplication.
As I listen to a reading of The Book of Nehemiah, I could identify these features as I heard him pray.
His petition is at (Nehemiah 1:1-11).
Four Characteristics of Nehemiah’s Prayer
As we begin to traverse Nehemiah’s prayer, let’s observe a few key features of it.
Note how and for whom he prayed. What was the goal of his prayer?
Therefore, we shall observe his “mode” or mood or frame of mind.
Often, I have stressed that the Bible teaches that a Christian Fast is a time of mourning.
Nehemiah’s Prayer highlights this feature, for he weeps and mourns for a specific number of days as he executes his prayer and fasting.
“And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,” (Nehemiah 1:4).
None of us could make any effective prayers without emotions. And for that reason, Nehemiah “wept” and “mourned” as he prayed.
Who Did Nehemiah Pray For?
Next, recall that when a person makes a prayer of supplication he or she prays for others and self.
As a result, note how Nehemiah starts his petition to the Lord God, the God of Heaven.
Observe for whom he prays.
First, he makes petitions for “the Children of Israel” (Nehemiah 1:6).
He requests: Lord, “Let [your] ear now be attentive, and [your] eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, ….” (Nehemiah 1:6).
So, we see that He begins his prayer by praying for his nation, Israel!
A Key Feature of Nehemiah’s Prayer of Supplication
This is a key feature of Nehemiah’s prayer of supplication.
And when you make supplication prayers, you should do as he did.
Pray for others.
This Prophet of God continues to pray for his nation. Listen as he calls on the Lord!
“O LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name” (Nehemiah 1:11).
He’s petitioning the Lord to hear his or the prayers of all Israelites who worship His name.
This should inform us that God expects and answers the prayers of Believers.
Then, he makes a specific petition for himself and his relatives (Nehemiah 1:6).
Nehemiah’s Prayer Was For What?
He prays “let now [your] ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant”.
This is a reference to himself.
Then he confesses to God.
“We have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned” (Nehemiah 1:6).
Believers should pray to the Lord with this boldness knowing that He hears us.
Therefore, Nehemiah continues his supplication prayer by confessing the sins of his and his father’s house and that of the Children of Israel as a nation (Nehemiah 1:7-10).
What Was the Goal of Nehemiah Prayer of Supplication?
Finally, Nehemiah’s prayer of supplication contains an important request.
He desires that the “Lord God of heaven” grants him favor with Artaxerxes the king.
He asks the Lord, “prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer”(Nehemiah 1:11).
So, he has a plan for he seeks favor with his employer, King Artaxerxes.
Do you have a plan that you desire to follow? Pray to the God of Heaven for favor before you execute it.
Name a person whose heart you want God to touch to expedite your plan.
Every effective prayer has at least one objective. Yet, we could have more than one goal for any prayer.
However, don’t have too many of them for a single prayer. One goal keeps us focus on making that request.
Having one goal will also aid us to recognize that what we prayed for we have achieved.
Nehemiah’s prayer of supplication had one goal and he attained it.
What have you prayed to the Lord of Heaven for and received?
Was Nehemiah’s Prayer a Written One?
How we pray is always important.
Nehemiah prayed with great emotions. This is a dominant feature of every supplication prayer.
However, it is not peculiar only to this type of prayer. We cannot pray to the God of Heaven effectively and not utilize our hearts.
It is the source of all our emotions. Therefore, if there are no emotions the prayer is not supplication and it’s not from the heart.
Emotionless prayers only reach as far as our lips, no further!
We never see results from them. It’s for this reason written-prayers are useless. Ineffective!
We could only pray from our hearts!!!
Who We Pray For is Equally Important
Who we pray for is equally significant. It changes the tenor of our petition.
Therefore, we must pray for others and ourselves for our prayers to qualify as prayers of supplication.
This is an important distinction between supplication and intercession prayer.
If Nehemiah had only prayed for Israel and not prayed for himself, then his would have been an intercessory prayer.
This quality of praying for others (even a nation) and self changes the prayer.
In closing, Nehemiah’s prayer had one goal. But it could have had multiple objectives.
Nevertheless, the best prayers are those with one well-defined objective.
What is one of your goals for your prayers?