Nehemiah 1:8-11 - Nehemiah's Prayer Part II

Dr. Steve Viars June 11, 1996 Nehemiah 1:8-11

- this morning we're returning to our study of Nehemiah chapter 1

- you remember that the book begins with Nehemiah identifying himself very briefly, and getting right into the story he wants us to hear.
- we're going to see today that Nehemiah keeps his readers in suspense about his real identity until
the end of chapter one.
- after explaining about how some of his Jewish brethren had come to the capitol of Babylon and told him about the deplorable conditions that existed in Jerusalem, the rest of the chapter deals with how Nehemiah wept and then prayed to his God.

- as we've studied this, we've been asking ourselves how we respond to challenging and difficult situations.
- is it with faithful and biblical prayer...or is it by some other means?

- Cyril Barber makes an important point about this when he says:
"The self-sufficient do not pray, they merely talk to themselves. The self-satisfied will not pray; they have no knowledge of their need. The self-righteous cannot pray; they have no basis on which to approach God."

- so our purpose in studying Nehemiah's prayer is not to have a lesson in history, but as a means of examining our own prayer life.

- J. Edgar Hoover said: "The force of prayer is greater than any possible combination of man- controlled powers, because prayer is man's greatest means of tapping the infinite resources of God."

- Now, we don't want to fall into the ditch of saying that prayer is the most important spiritual discipline as if our talking to God in prayer is more important than Him talking to us in the
Scriptures; but the other side of that is that many of us need to work on this area of our lives.

- the founder of J.C. Penny stores said: "True prayer opens the eyes to things not seen before. It
stands in contrast to that prayer which has been the mere reflection of one's selfish desires."

- last week, Pastor Shelburne began studying this prayer with you and pointed out that it contains
four facets that are often found in biblical prayers.
- you can remember the four facets with the acronym ACTS:


- last week, you looked at verses 5-7 of Nehemiah 1 and looked at the first two facets that are evident in this prayer, adoration and confession.
- this morning, we want to look at the last two, thanksgiving and supplication.

- before we get into this, let me just ask you this question:
Are you satisfied with where you are in this area of your life?
If not, do we need to talk about this?
If not, are you glad we're talking about this?
If not, are you ready to think about changes that will need to be made as a result of what we study in these verses?

- with that in mind, let's read our verses:
READ Nehemiah 1:8-11

III. Thanksgiving

- much of what we've just read from this portion of Nehemiah's prayer falls under this heading of thanksgiving.
- in this case, the thanksgiving is in the form of remembering and reviewing God's promises.

- thats what's going on here---Nehemiah is quoting or alluding to several passages from the Old Testament.

- before we look at specifically what Nehemiah said, let's just think for a minute about what we can learn from the fact that Nehemiah's prayer contained so many allusions to the Scripture.

- Cyril Barber said it this way: "Nehemiah's prayer is based upon Scripture. He may have been reared in a land given over to idolatry and served in a pagan court, but this did not prevent him from cultivating his spiritual life. His prayer shows the extent to which he had mastered the Word and how it controlled his life."

- a good question for us to ask would be -- "How biblical are my prayers?"
(develop - counselees invariably say that they've prayed about their problem -- but often their prayers are very unbiblical because they haven't taken the time be in church and learn the Scriptures, or they haven't studied them on their own, so their prayers are ineffective.)

A. Thankful for the surety of God's judgment.

- we're thinking about the phrase in verse 8; "If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples."

- God has made it very clear that sin and rebellion will bring judgment and consequences.

- INPUT - Verses that emphasize these ideas? (Gal. 6:7, Prov. 28:13)

- Now the interesting thing is, Nehemiah was reviewing these ideas as part of his prayer.

- INPUT - A very important question at this point is - How would Nehemiah reviewing this truth in his prayer help him as he responded to this situation?

- The answer is -- Nehemiah would have been dead wrong if he would have thought about the broken-down condition of Jerusalem's walls and then thought, "God is unfair. How could a loving God have allowed this?"

- It is amazing how often people do that.
- Where they get themselves in all kinds of "jams" because of their sinful choices and then they have the audacity to curse God about it.

- Now I'm not saying that every problem we face is a direct result of our individual sin (DEVELOP)
- However, often times the difficulties we face are ones of our making.

INPUT - Hypothetical examples?

- the point is - Nehemiah was able to pray and thank God in part for how He kept His Word that sin would be punished---there would be consequences for their sinful acts.
- Undoubtedly, Nehemiah was familiar enough with Israel's history that he knew how far the nation had rebelled from God.
- Reminding himself in prayer of how God promised consequences to these who disobeyed helped him respond to this situation properly.
- Biblical thinking resulted in Biblical praying which resulted in Biblical living.

- A good question to ask at this point is -- Can you be thankful for this facet of God's character?
- This will go a long way to helping us obey James 1:2.

- cf. Hebrews 12:4 ff.

- while this idea is important, his thanksgiving did not stop there:

B. Thankful for the promise of God's forgiveness.

- Verse 8 is very clear about the fact that there is:

1) The condition of the forgiveness.

- INPUT - What are the conditions?

a. If you return to me.
b. If you keep my commands and do them.

- Some people want the blessings of God//Forgiveness of God without being willing to meet the conditions.

- there is no forgiveness available for the person who will not repent and follow God's will.

- However, for those who will meet the condition, think about the:

2) The fact of the forgiveness.

- How does Nehemiah describe the forgiving work of God in verse 9?
- will gather them.
- will bring them back.

- INPUT - Does the way Nehemiah says this remind of something our Lord said in the NT?

NAS Mat 23:37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

- it was right for Nehemiah, as he prayed, to rehearse in His mind the wonderful blessing and promise of forgiveness.

- to make it even better yet, let's think about:

3) The extent of the forgiveness.

- Nehemiah said, even those who have been "scattered to the most remote part of the heavens..."

- this part of the prayer ought to give us a lot of hope.
- Even when our sin was significant, and the judgment had to be severe, we can be thankful that there is nothing that we cannot be forgiven of.

- This prayer also ought to give us hope for loved ones or friends that we are trying to minister to.
- As we pray for them, it would be very appropriate to rehearse in our minds that God will forgive anyone who comes to Him, regardless of the depth of their sin.

- notice also:
4) The purpose of the forgiveness.

- Nehemiah also speaks about Jerusalem as the place "I have chosen for my name to dwell."

- People who appreciate God's forgiveness will want to glorify His name by their lives and their lips.

- so what have we seen thus far?
- Nehemiah's prayer is filled with Biblical truth.
- Truth about why God judges.
- Truth about how God forgives.
- Both categories will help him respond to the news he has received properly.
- one other way Nehemiah was thankful was:
C. Thankful for the work God had already done.

- He says in verse 10: "And they are Thy servants and Thy people whom Thou didst
redeem by Thy great power and by Thy strong hand."

- this is so different than the way we often pray.
- so often, we're right into the requests, sprinkled liberally with some sanctified griping.

- Nehemiah is praying biblically and therefore getting himself in the right frame of mind to make appropriate requests...which is what he does next:

IV. Supplication

READ Nehemiah 1:11

INPUT - What impresses you about this part of the prayer?

1) It is specific.

- He knows exactly what it is going to take to get the job done.

- read from Wiersbe, p. 21 for why it was so important that the king respond properly.

- Pro 21:1 The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it
wherever He wishes.

2) It is It is humble.

- Note the threefold use of the word servant.
- he knew who he was and he knew who he was speaking to.

3) It is aggressive.

- this wasn't a wimpy request.
- this was asking for a lot.
- But he knew that God was able, and after carefully doing all the things we've studied
these last two weeks, he was in a position to make a bold request of the God he loved, and the God he wanted to continue to serve.

- this morning our challenge is two-fold:
- When faced with a difficulty like Nehemiah was,

1) Do you pray?

- or do you scurry around and try to figure things out yourself?
2) Do you pray well?

- Are your prayers biblical prayers?
- Do they have, not just supplication, but the other elements we've studied these two weeks?

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video