The cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia was a Jewish man who prayed often. The Old Testament book, Nehemiah, named after this great Israelite leader contains multiple examples of Nehemiah’s prayers. Nehemiah Chapter 1 contains a magnificence example of one of his wonderful prayers.
After hearing a report about the condition of Jerusalem, Nehemiah prays to God and fasts for several days (1:5-11). In his prayer he offers first several words of praise for the “Lord God of heaven,” describing God as “great and awesome.” Nehemiah states how God “preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments.” He mentions God’s great power and strong hand (1:10).
This is followed by a request Nehemiah makes to God. He wants God to “be attentive” and “hear” his prayer. This request is also repeated at the end of the prayer (v.11).
The third thing in Nehemiah’s prayer is a confession of the sins which he, his father’s house and his nation had committed against God. He says they had “acted corruptly against” God and they had not “kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which [God] didst command Thy servant Moses” (1:6-7).
The fourth thing mentioned is Nehemiah reminding God of His conditional promise He had made to the children of Israel. God had told Moses that if the children of Israel would return to God after their disobedience had caused them to be scattered to the “most remote part of the heavens,” that He would “gather them” and bring them back to the city where God would dwell (v.8-9).
As Nehemiah concludes his prayer he praises God again and makes his request. Nehemiah wanted God to grant him success in his task and as he approached King Artaxerxes.
This is probably a summary of the many prayers Nehemiah offered to God during those days of fasting. It gives us an idea of things for which this great leader prayed. Praising God, confessing our sins (and those of others) to God along with our requests for certain things should be among the many things about which we can speak to God.
Thinking about our own prayers, do we incorporate these ingredients into our prayers? While it is not necessary for all of these items to be in every prayer, they are things which should be included in our prayers. Our prayer may only be words of praise to God. Maybe our prayer is a confession of our sins. Maybe our prayer is a request for God’s help in being successful in an upcoming task.
Inputting into our prayers words used by this great leader will help us to be living God’s way.
Carlton G. McPeak is an evangelist working in the Florida Gateway region. All Scriptural quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, unless otherwise stated. He may be contacted at email@example.com.