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Standing Tall and Strong Through Prayer

 

Charles F. Stanley

Scripture: Nehemiah 1:1-11

I. Introduction: Prayer is powerful. It allows us to cast our burdens on the Lord and receive guidance and provision from Him. We can experience God’s power for daily living when we’re willing to seek Him earnestly and bow in reverence. Remember, we stand tallest and strongest on our knees (Life Principle #17). If you and I approach prayer correctly, we can have confidence that He will respond to our requests.

II. Nehemiah knew how to stand tall and strong on his knees.

A. When he heard that Jerusalem’s walls and gates were in ruins, Nehemiah turned to God in prayer (Neh. 1:4). As a result, the Lord granted him favor with King Artaxerxes. The ruler not only let Nehemiah take a leave of absence; he also supplied the exiles with building materials and military protection (2:5-9).

B. Time and again, Nehemiah sought the Lord whenever he faced a problem. He turned to God for strength to keep going despite criticism and discouragement (4:1-5). The Lord gave him wisdom to know how to handle critics (6:1-3) and to defend the city against military attack (4:18). To their enemies’ surprise, the Jews rebuilt the wall in 52 days. More importantly, spiritual revival came to Jerusalem as a result of Nehemiah’s faithfulness.

III. How should we pray?

A. Recognize that God is the Sovereign of the Universe. Nehemiah addressed his prayer to “the great and awesome God” (1:5). Psalm 103:19 says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” Our heavenly Father never ceases to be the ruler and master of the universe.

B. Recognize that God is holy. When Isaiah saw the Lord in His glory, he felt unclean, even though he had lived a faithful, righteous life (Isa. 6:1-6). The picture we see of God in the book of Revelation is similar in its majesty. As humans, we all fall short of His absolute holiness. We should approach Him with reverence and awe. The same attitude prompted Nehemiah to fast and pray for four months. He looked to God, not himself, for the answer to Jerusalem’s problems.

C. Confess sin. Nehemiah included himself when he admitted the rebellion of his nation (Neh. 1:6-7). Scripture teaches that the Lord won’t hear our prayers if we’re holding onto unconfessed sin (Ps. 66:18). Purity of heart and the power of God are connected.

D. Recognize your inadequacy. Nehemiah’s job had not prepared him in construction, and he was unknown to the Jews who had remained in Jerusalem. Yet God still called him to lead the restoration. When the Lord tells you to do something, He hasn’t made a mistake. He will never call you to do something that you can’t accomplish through His power and strength. In fact, God delights in using your weaknesses to teach you how to rely on Him.

E. Be available for God to use you. Some prayers will never be answered unless we take an active role in their fulfillment.

F. Experience the Holy Spirit’s enabling power. Nehemiah’s success was not simply a result of his education, personality, or political connections. He had developed a personal relationship with the Father (Neh. 2:4). God wants you to look at yourself as He does—as someone with potential. In the power of the Spirit, you have the ability to do whatever He asks.

G. Acquire God’s vision and direction. As Nehemiah sought the Lord in prayer, God revealed his role in the city’s restoration. What’s on your heart? Surrender every dream or goal to the heavenly Father, and watch what He will do in and through you.

VI. Conclusion: As a child of God, you have the awesome privilege of falling on your knees and talking to the Ruler of the universe. Don’t take this precious gift for granted. Humbly approach the throne of grace with your needs, confess your wrongdoing, and admit that life’s challenges are too much for you to handle. The Father will reveal His plans and equip you to succeed.

(Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.)