I Will Pray For You

Bible Book: Nehemiah  1 : 1-11
Subject: Prayer

Have you ever analyzed your prayers? Are they more selfish than selfless? Most of us would confess that our prayers are indeed selfish. We are like one young lady who prayed, “Lord, I ask nothing for myself, but please send my mother a fine handsome son-in-law.”

Once in a while we break free from our selfishness. A prominent individual recently said that his little daughter often supplements her usual evening prayer with many requests for special favors from the Lord. However, one night--as a sweet afterthought--she closed with the words, “And now, God, what can I do for You?”

Often we’re afraid to pray that way. We know why, don’t we? F. E. Marsh tells us this truth. “I want you to spend fifteen minutes every day praying for foreign missions,” said a pastor to some young people in his congregation. “But beware how you pray, for I warn you that it is a very costly experiment.”

“Costly?” they asked in surprise.

“Yes, costly,” he replied. “When Carey began to pray for the conversion of the world it cost him himself.”

Brainerd prayed for the dark-skinned savages, and, after two years of blessed work, “Be sure it is a dangerous thing to pray in earnest for this work; you will find that you cannot pray and withhold your labour, or pray and withhold your money; indeed, you will find that your very life will no longer be your own when your prayers begin to be answered.”

Let us become Kingdom intercessors, ready to plead for the sake of others, regardless of the cost. Turn with me to Nehemiah 1:1-11. Here we see a clear picture of the ministry of intercession.

In Nehemiah 1 we have a clear example of a man of God who sought to understand the need of God’s people at Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s method was to interrogate certain men who had been at Jerusalem and had seen for themselves the need as it existed.

Nehemiah’s investigation led to intercession and to personal involvement in the work of God. Our text is the first of many texts recording the prayers of Nehemiah. In his book we find prayer offered before the work is undertaken, while the work is in progress, and after the work has been completed. Here is prayer in the quietness of his own room as well as amid the noise of the building of the walls of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s prayers were not all of the same nature. The prayer recorded in our text was intercessory in nature. By this we mean that it involved specific requests on behalf of God’s people and Nehemiah himself.

I. Understand His Situation

A. His Situation did not Alter His Faith

Here is the prayer of a man who had not lost his love for the land and the faith of his fathers. Nehemiah’s ancestors had been carried into captivity by the Babylonians. Seventy years had elapsed until the decree of Cyrus had permitted the Jews to return to their homeland. Initially only fifty thousand had responded, the majority choosing to remain in exile to enjoy their prosperity. Nehemiah had remained in the service of the Medo-Persian king.

B. He used His Situation to Exert His Faith

This prayer was also the prayer of a man who had been placed in the service of King Artaxerxes. It was not by chance that he was in this position by providence. This position would become highly significant in the course of time.

II. Examine His Attitude

It is the attitude we must seek to cultivate if we’re to be effective intercessors. Look at vs. 3-4a.

A. An Attitude of Compassion

We see an attitude of compassion fueled by knowledge. This man’s prayer was filled with concern and compassion for others by the acquisition of fresh information about the plight of Jerusalem and its citizens. The flame of his intercession burned brighter amid the darkness of his times as the fuel of information was placed on the altar of his heart.

The more he learned, the deeper his compassion grew. That’s the why of missions education, isn’t it? If we care, we’ll pray. If we pray, we’ll care. Spurgeon said, “Earnest intercession will be sure to bring love with it. I do not believe you can hate a man for whom you habitually pray. If you dislike any brother Christian, pray for him doubly, not only for his sake, but for your own, that you may be cured of prejudice and saved from all unkind feeling.” Do you have an attitude of compassion? It costs something to pay attention. Do you care…do you know what to pray for?

B. An Attitude of Brokenness

We see the attitude of brokenness (v. 4b). Nehemiah’s response to the news brought by his friends concerning Jerusalem gives to us this characteristic of his prayer: humiliation and brokenness (v. 4). He responded “before the God of heaven.” And this response was marked not by gladness but by grief, not by singing but by sorrow. Closely allied to this aspect of humiliation and brokenness is Nehemiah’s confession of sin. He recognized that the exile was caused by the sin of God’s people. He confessed his own sin and his father’s sins.

C. An Attitude of Faith

We see an attitude of faith (v. 5). As we read Nehemiah’s prayer we are impressed by his spirit of faith. Nehemiah prays in confidence, without wavering. He comes boldly to the throne of grace in order that he might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. D. L. Moody said, “If you pray for bread and bring no basket to carry it, you prove the doubting spirit which may be the only hindrance to the gift you ask.”

How we too need an attitude of faith, as we intercede! Otherwise, it’s a waste of time.

D. An Attitude of Reverence

Finally, we note that Nehemiah’s prayer is characterized by a reverence for God and a prayer expression of his own relationship to God. Listen to him pray: "O LORD , God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands” (v. 5).

Let’s examine our prayers. Do we come before God in humiliation and brokenness? Do we come confessing our sins and rebellion? Do we come in faith? Do we seek God’s face, remembering that He is the Lord God of heaven and that we are His servants? Are you a Kingdom Prayer?

III. See His Plea

Perhaps the most important aspect of Nehemiah’s prayer is its content. The content may be summarized by three words found in 1:6, 8, and 11: hear, remember, and prosper.

A. He Prayed Confidently

Hear the prayer of your servant (v. 6). Nehemiah understood that God was not deaf. He recognized, however, that God will not answer the prayers of His people when they are not rightly related to Him in love and obedience.

B. He Prayed Continually

Nehemiah drew attention to several aspects of his prayer to God. His prayer was continual, “day and night.” His prayer was definite and specific? “For the children of Israel thy servants.” His prayer was contrite and repentant: “confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: Both I and my father’s house have sinned” (v. 6).

C. He Prayed Historically

Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses (v. 8). Nehemiah probes the mind of God to remember His word, to keep His word to His people. God had promised to punish, but He had also promised to prosper. Nehemiah pleads for that prosperity. Notice these important aspects of the ministry of intercession: the man of God believes the Word of God in order that the work of God might be accomplished.

D. He Prayed Boldly

The third request is found in v. 11. In the KJV, the word is prosper. In the NIV, it is a call for success. Both are good. Hear--for God is a living God. Remember--for God has spoken. Prosper or success for God is a God of action.

IV. Realize The Consequences of Intercession

A. God Heard Him

Did God hear? Did God prosper them? The remainder of the book of Nehemiah answers these questions in the affirmative. The secret of Nehemiah’s success, then, lay not in his resources as one commissioned by Artaxerxes. It lay not in his ability and acumen as a man and as a leader. Rather, it lay in his power with God.

B. God will Hear Us


How desperately we need intercessors in our church and in our nation today. I recently received an internet article entitled, “Christians in the White House.” It talked about a time when Max Lucado and other Christian pastors and authors were invited to lunch with President Bush at the White House. Lucado stated that he expected to see the President walk into the room tired, serious, and depressed (after all that has gone on in the last few months). However, when the President did come in Lucado said that he looked the opposite of tired. He was energetic, joyful, and very focused on his talk with the ministers. Lucado asked President Bush how he could seem so calm and peaceful in the midst of all the tragedy. The President’s reply was, “I’m feeling stronger now than I have ever been in my life. And the reason is because every person in America is praying for me. When I stay on my knees, that’s when I have power.”

No human leader is perfect. We do not have a perfect President. You do not have a perfect Pastor. However, intercessory prayer can take the life of an imperfect leader in a less than ideal situation, or any other situation and turn it to the point where it is blessed of our Lord. I do believe that we are just on the surface of understanding what intercessory prayer can really do in this church, in this area, and in our nation.

Are you an intercessor? Are you a prayer warrior? Do you have an ongoing prayer list? Lord, teach us how to pray!