Reading: Nehemiah 1
Neglect and abuse of indigenous children in the care of Christian run residential schools.
Spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to convict you of any sin in your own life. 1 John 1:9.
Ask the Lord for truth and reconciliation between the Church and our indigenous people.
Ask the Lord to align your heart with His.
Nehemiah’s prayer, verses 4-11, are a model of intercession. The prayer of intercession is where a person or a group of people pray to God on behalf of others. This is done usually to avert judgment that is or has come upon them because of their sin. The goal of intercession is to change God’s heart and plead for mercy and restoration. Other examples of intercessors are Moses whose prayer turned God’s anger from destroying the Israelites after the golden calf incident. Abraham prayed for mercy on the city of Sodom. Another is Jesus, who stood in our place and took the punishment for our sin and brought us peace with God. Now Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).
Over this 2 week period of mourning, fasting, and prayer, we will be using the principles that Nehemiah demonstrates to frame our own prayers of intercession for ourselves, our families, the Church, and our nation.
Principle 1 - A humble and contrite heart.
Nehemiah humbles himself with fasting. The posture of his heart one of mourning. Mourning is deep-felt emotion of godly sorrow consistent with the recognition of how our sin grieves the heart of the Father.
Principle 2 - Approach with Worship.
Nehemiah starts with worship, “O great and awesome God.” Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to approach in worship. Matt. 6:9; “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
Principle 3 - Pray in faith.
Faith is not a wish, nor is it a feeling. Nehemiah prays based upon God’s faithfulness to perform His covenant promises. He knows God has kept His word, that is why they are in captivity! Nehemiah also knows that God will be just as faithful to restore the people and heal the land if they repent from their unfaithfulness and turn back to the Lord with their whole hearts. Faith is always grounded in the truth of God’s word.
Principle 4 - Confession.
Nehemiah stands in the place of His people and confesses the sins of unfaithfulness. He is specific, not general. He didn’t commit the sins of his ancestors so why should he confess their sin? Nehemiah understands that he is deeply connected to his people Israel. Because of this connection, he can stand in for them by identifying that their sin affects him, and his affects them. Thus he can pray, “Both my father’s house and I have sinned.”
Principle 5 - Ask.
Having approached in worship, established his prayer on the covenant promises, and confessed the sins of the nation, Nehemiah is now ready to ask God for favour with the King so he can go and rebuild the city walls.