Nehemiah 9 contains the longest prayer in the Old Testament. Prayer takes time! We can learn several things from this chapter on how to improve our prayer lives.
PRAYER ACKNOWLEDGES GOD
They came together publicly to recognize the greatness of God. Prayer focuses on God. They are recounting all the Lord has done in these verses, starting with creation and continuing to the present.
One key to improve your prayer life is to pray Scripture. God speaks to us through Scripture. We talk to God through prayer. You will never run out of something to pray about this way. You know you are praying the will of God when you pray the Word of God.
The key to any relationship is communication. Christianity is all about a relationship with God. As you read your Bible, talk to God. It is not just information, but transformation. Prayer is God-centered. Most of the world has no idea who God is. Who you pray to matters. You learn who God is through the Bible. God is love. He’s holy and good. He will never leave you. He is Creator, Savior, and our Provider. He is merciful and is our hope.
PRAYER ADMITS GUILT
They came together to confess the sinfulness of man. Look at verses 16-17 and 26-29. “You” refers to God and “they” refers to sinful man. Man is sinful. Israel’s past was like a roller-coaster. God is a giving God, but the more He gave them, the less they gave Him. They were not thankful. They turned away from God. People today are just as quick to turn away!
You can be honest with God. If you are mad at God, you might as well tell Him. If you’ve messed up, tell Him that too. I’ll let you in on a secret… He already knows it. We don’t like to talk about our own sin. We rename and redefine sin as “just a mistake.” We blame others. Be honest about yourself. Prayer leads to repentance. It is more than confession. It is change. Worldly sorrow is not repentance. Feeling really bad for what you did is not repentance. Being sorry you got caught is not repentance. Stop excusing your sin! Sin is against people, but it is also against God. Take time to repent every day. Confess your sins the way you commit them- one by one. Admit your sin and abandon it.
PRAYER ACCEPTS GRACE
They came to receive the mercy of God. Look at some of the phrases we read in their prayer:
– “You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.” (v. 17)
– “In Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them…” (v. 19)
– “You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold…” (v. 20)
– “You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing…” (v.21)
– “You gave them kingdoms and nations…” (v. 22)
– “You also multiplied their children…” (v. 23)
– “For many years You had patience with them…” (v. 30)
– “In Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful.” (v. 31)
As part of the conclusion, we read, “For You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly” (v. 33). God was long-suffering and merciful. He spared them. God did not give them what they deserved – He showed mercy. God did give them what they did not deserve – He showed grace. The cross says sin is serious. Sin will kill your joy, marriage, family, business, career, church, etc. The only hope is the death of Jesus.
God is close and will hear you if you call on Him. Go to Him in prayer. Acknowledge Him. Admit your guilt. Accept His grace.