The second step to changing problems into possibilities, not only must you visualize; but, secondly, we must be willing to agonize. In Nehemiah 1:4, we read, “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of Heaven.”
A. We Need A Prayer of Contrition
What kind of a prayer was this? It was a prayer of contrition. It was a prayer where Nehemiah wept salty tears over the condition, as it was. Do you know what’s wrong with our society? Society has forgotten how to blush, and the church has forgotten how to weep.
When was the last time you spent a night in prayer? When was the last time you fasted and prayed? When was the last time you shed a tear over some soul that was mortgaged to the devil?
We often pray without crying; we give without sacrifice; we live without fasting. Is it any wonder that we sow without reaping? Weeping, fasting, praying, seeking the face of God, have become a lost art. In order for revival to come to any nation or society, God’s people need to begin to pray a prayer of contrition-a prayer of brokenness. This is the generation of a dry-eyed church in a hell-bent world.
B. We Need A Prayer of Confession
Nehemiah’s prayer not only contained contrition; but it also contained prayer confession. In Nehemiah 1:6, he said, “Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou may hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.”
The confession of his prayer was both national and personal. Nehemiah said, “Israel has sinned, and I have sinned.” We must pray for our city. We must pray for our state and for our nation. We must nationally repent. Yet, this is no good unless we individually repent.
Have you repented? We must do more than sit, weep, mourn and bow our heads. We must repent. If we do not repent, we will never be a part of the solution-only a part of the problem.
C. We Need A Prayer of Confidence
Next, Nehemiah prayed a prayer of confidence. In Nehemiah 1:8-10, he stated, “Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commanded thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: but if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.”
Do you notice what he’s doing? Do you know what he’s doing? He’s saying, “God, You remember what You said in Your Word? Do you remember those promises You made in Your Word? God, I’m holding You to Your Word.” Isn’t that great? You see, that’s what real prayer is.
Real prayer is not just letting your mind wander and thinking up some things that you want and going to Heaven with a little shopping list. Real prayer is rooted in the rock-ribbed promises of the Word of God. It is finding a promise in the Word of God and standing on it.
God says, “Concerning the work of my hands command you me” (Isaiah 45:11). Nehemiah audaciously came to the Father, and, said, “Father, I am praying a prayer of confidence. I am believing You, God, because You promised. And, because You promised, Lord, I am holding You to Your Word.”
We serve a majestic God. Someone has well said that, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His willingness. Find a promise in the Word of God that means it’s something God wants to do, and then, stand upon it. And, pray huge prayers.”
John Newton said, “Thou art coming to a King,Large petitions with thee bring; For His grace and pow’r are such none can ever ask too much.”
D. We Need A Prayer of Commitment
Last, Nehemiah prays a prayer of commitment. In 1:11 he stated, “O LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.”
Nehemiah had a very important job; he was the king’s cupbearer. Here was a fantastically, lavishly wealthy king, so wealthy that he had a cupbearer who would come in with his wine and with his goodies every day, and offer them to the king. This was a job that paid well. This was a very high-elevated job, because you were right there with the king in his most intimate moments.
Nehemiah, the king’s cupbearer, and he had a job of luxury. He was so far removed from the poverty, and the degradation, and the fallen walls. Nehemiah was in his little place of security. He was in his own little warm nest.
Yet, he couldn’t stay there. God had burdened him. When he saw the condition of the fallen walls, he said, “By the grace of God I’m going to get involved.” And, he says, “Lord, I’m starting to do something. Lord, I feel a fire burning in me. God, you’re calling me now and you will prosper me because I’m about to get out of my warm nest and commit to rebuild the walls.”
It’s not enough for you to pray the prayer of contrition, the prayer of confession, and the prayer of confidence, unless you’re also willing to pray the prayer of commitment. Prayer is no substitute for commitment. Prayer is not a smokescreen in which you can hide your lack of commitment.
Do you think we are going to be able to do what we’ve called ourselves to do, and what we feel God is leading us to do? We can, if you’ll do more than pray. You can’t do more than pray, until you’ve prayed. But, you should do more than pray after you’ve prayed; you should take action. It will take all of us. It is not equal giving, but equal sacrifice. Many in ministry do not want to get out of their warm nests. My our Lord help us to get out of warm nests and fly higher than ever before!