“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them . . . I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’”
Nehemiah 1:8-9 (NLT)
When you pray, it turns your attention toward God and helps you to see that he is bigger and more powerful than any of your concerns. And as you watch God answer your prayers, your faith deepens.
Today I want to talk to you about four ways to pray effectively, based on the life of Nehemiah:
1. Base your request on God’s character. Pray like you know God will answer you. You can say something like, “God, I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem!”
2. Confess the sins you’re aware of. That’s what Nehemiah did. He said, “I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us” (Nehemiah 1:6-7 NLT). It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that Israel went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened; he was most likely born in captivity. Yet he included himself in the sins of his people. He said, “I’ve been a part of the problem.”
3. Claim the promises of God. Nehemiah prayed to the Lord, saying, “Please remember what you told your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:8 NLT). Can you imagine saying “remember” to God? Nehemiah reminded God of a promise made to the nation of Israel. In effect, Nehemiah prayed, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we’d repent, you’d give it back to us.”
Does God have to be reminded? No. Does he forget what he’s promised? No. Then why should you claim God’s promises when you pray? Because it helps you remember what God has promised.
4. Be specific in what you ask for. If you want specific answers to prayer, make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they’re answered?
When you pray, you’re submitting yourself to God’s sovereignty, acknowledging that he is active in all the details of your life and able to provide for your every need. But prayer also brings you into alignment with God’s will, helping you understand how and why he answered the way he did.
But never doubt this: God answers your prayers.
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