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Nehemiah 1:5–11a ‘Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive…’ (v5–6a)

Sometimes the concept of prayer is seen as a shiny chrome celestial slot machine. Prayer is asking God for things we desire, and He gives them to us. Anything is possible.

A bit like when I was a child, circling all the things I would want for Christmas in the, now defunct, Argos catalogue and leaving it lying around to ensure my parents were aware of my festive request, hopeful that they would get the hint.

Our prayers can be like that childhood experience as we start by making long lists of what we want. ‘Dear God, please give me _____ (fill in the blank)’.

But in this moment Nehemiah was stirred by a need. He was motivated not by personal greed, but by the cries of his people and the state of the city.

However, before he opened his mouth and prayed his prayer (vv5–11), he spent time weeping, fasting, mourning and praying.

He then confesses his sins and the sins of his people (vv5–7), before making his request that God’s ear would be attentive or, in other translations, ‘listen to my prayer’.

Prayer is more helpfully likened to ploughing the field while you carry the seed of prayer in you. You may have said the prayer hundreds of times: it’s in your waking and in your breathing.

To know God hears your prayers and that the seed will bear fruit. Seed has great potential to multiply and grow, just like prayers of the heart.

What is your day of disappointment? What is God breaking your heart over?


A Prayer To Make:
‘Lord, You know the challenges of my family and the needs of my local community before I even take a breath. Would You listen to my prayer. Amen.’

An Action To Take:
Pause and consider our God ‘who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments’ (v5).

Scripture To Consider:
1 Kgs 8:29–30; 2 Chr. 7:14; Pss. 17:1 & 39:12; Matt. 7:7; 1 John 5:15

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.