jtrhart

Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Nehemiah: Prayer and God’s Sovereignty

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Nehemiah just found out that an army had formed and was on its way to kill anyone working towards the goal (get the wall built) and we read this:

4:9 – But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.

Earlier in the book though Nehemiah says:

2:20 – The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build

I find it so interesting that even though Nehemiah is absolutely convinced that the wall will be rebuilt, he still prays. Certainly if all of the labor is wiped out by this army the wall would not be rebuilt, so Nehemiah could safely assume that he is not in danger here. Why pray then? Some would say that this is a waste of time, if God has already planned out your success then keep moving ahead. No time to waste. All throughout Scripture though we see people praying for God to do what he has promised and it crescendos at the cross where we find Jesus praying for God’s will to be done.

God loves it when we pray back to him his own promises. It is found in the majority of prayers mentioned in the Bible. If you struggle with maintaining a consistent prayer life, give this a try: simply pray back to God his promises and recount the wonderful things he has done. It express our dependence on God which is ultimately what prayer really is.

Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

And that’s a promise.

Nehemiah: Prayer and Fasting

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

The book of Nehemiah begins with Nehemiah learning about the troubles facing the remnant of Jews living in Jerusalem. The wall surrounding the city has broken down, leaving its inhabitants defenseless.

Nehemiah is greatly troubled by the news and spends the next five months in prayer and fasting. This is how any great project must begin. Many stories in the Bible start with God drawing someone out and placing them in the wilderness where they pray and fast while they hear from God.

Listen to how Nehemiah prays:

  • Praising God for who he is (v.5) – God is great, awesome, a keeper of covenant, a steadfast lover of those who are his, a rewarder of those who keep his commands.
  • Pleading to be heard (v.6) – begs God to open his ear to his prayer.
  • Confessing sins (vv.6,7) – recognizes that he and his people have sinned before God alone.
  • Recounting God’s promises (vv.8-10) – recognizes his dependence on God’s provision and promises.
  • Requesting God’s help (v.11) – asks for favor as he undertakes his project.

It’s most interesting to note that the majority of Nehemiah’s prayer is spent on things other than his actual prayer request. This is how God wants us to pray. Spend time praising God for who he is and what he has done. Recount the evidences of God’s grace in your life. Pray back portions of Scripture to him. God knows your request before you do, don’t spend a lot of time on it.

Nehemiah didn’t start planning on rebuilding the wall first and then ask for God’s help with it. He prayed and fasted while he listened for God.

George Whitefield and Prayer

In books on January 26, 2008 at 3:50 pm

WhitefieldI am reading through one of the many great Christmas presents I received this year (does my family know me or what?) and I was really struck with how much George Whitefield prayed through Scripture early on in his walk. I’m sure he continued to do it later on in his walk to some extent but Dallimore’s biography does not say.

The thing that really struck me was the sheer amount of time men like G.W. used to spend studying through the Scriptures. He would read/pray/study for hours at a time, multiple times per day in his youth. As he grew older and began preaching, he may have had less time to devote to this practice but again we don’t know. Whitefield would sometimes preach to three different crowds three times a day. There is no way to prepare that many sermons so the author concludes that G.W. wrote down some sermons but was able to “wing” a lot of his preaching because of the tremendous amount of time he spent studying the word. The author says Whitefield slept very little; between his time spent in quietness, his time spent preaching and in ministry, and his time devoted to various projects there was just no time for sleep.

It makes me stop and think. Do I devote my time to God and to others in this way? What takes up my time that may not be edifying to myself or others? Where exactly does my time go? What does God tell us to do with our time? I thought these passages might help out:

  • Ephesians 5:15-16 – Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
  • Ephesians 6:18 – With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing;
  • 1 Peter 4:1-2 – Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
  • 1 Peter 1:17 – If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
  • Isaiah 55:1-3 – “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. “Incline your ear and come to Me Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.

I think that passage in Isaiah is particularly helpful. We should not spend our money/time/resources on what is not necessary and satisfying. It’s interesting that both necessary (bread) and satisfying is used there. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to get rid of everything in my life that is not necessary that I forget to look to what is satisfying. I forget that God desires us to be a joyful people, fully satisfied in Him, not wanting of anything but Him.

The picture above is a rendering of George Whitefield at an early age. You’ll notice an interesting feature in his eyes if you look close enough. Apparently, George contracted the measles at an early age and was left with an eye disorder that made him appear to squint all the time. God used this squint effectually though, it was said that when he preached this squinting made you feel like he was starring right at you and speaking directly to your hearing.