The Need of Agonize in Prayer
Learning from the life of Nehemiah, the Cup-Bearer. The prayer of Nehemiah really speaks a volume on how we need to seek God’s face during the pressing need, and stormy times. There is one thing that prompted Nehemiah to agonize in prayer.
SEEING THE PROBLEM- He visualized the problem.
He visualized the problems when the news got to him about what was going on in Jerusalem with the remnants that remained, and the very hostile conditions that they faced as a result of the broken wall of the city.
When Nehemiah heard the news about Jerusalem, he could have said, “Stop. Don’t say another word. I don’t want to know the truth.
What would have happened? We don’t know for sure, but if he had refused to see the problem, I suspect Nehemiah would never have become the great wall-builder.
It’s time for believers to visualize the problems. Can you see them in your spiritual mind’s eye? Only when we do this, will we be motivated to come together and rebuild the walls to restore God’s blessing, provision, and protection on Nigeria. We had better get our eyes open and see the truth. The walls have fallen in our personal lives, in our homes, and in our nation.
The thing that motivated and moved Nehemiah so long ago was that he was able to visualize the problem. He saw the situation as it was.
Not only must we visualize the problem, but we must also agonize over the problem. In
Nehemiah 1:4 we are told, “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 PRAYER OF CONTRITION
What is Contrition?
What kind of a prayer did Nehemiah offer?
First, it was a prayer of contrition.
Nehemiah wept salty tears over the condition of Jerusalem. Do you know what’s wrong with our society and our churches? Our society has forgotten how to blush, and our churches have 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 pray without crying, give without sacrificing, and live without fasting. Is it any wonder that we sow without reaping?
Dear friend, I’m afraid that weeping, fasting, praying, and seeking the face of God have become a lost art. But there is no way that Nigeria will come back to God until God’s people learn to pray the prayer of brokenness. Nehemiah wept and agonized over the broken-down condition of God’s city and the plight of God’s people.
A PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Not only was Nehemiah’s prayer one of contrition, it was also a prayer of confession: Let Thine ear now be attentive, and Thine eyes open, that Thou mayest 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. (Nehemiah 1:6)
I want you to notice the confession in this prayer. It was both national and personal. Nehemiah said, “Israel has sinned, and I have sinned.” If we don’t repent, we are part of the problem. National repentance will do no good unless we individually repent as the people of God. We pray without crying, give without sacrificing, and live without fasting. Is it any wonder that we sow without reaping? And unless we are ready to repent, it does no good to weep and mourn. It’s not enough to weep crocodile tears. Nehemiah prayed a prayer of genuine confession.
A PRAYER OF CONFIDENCE
Here’s a third characteristic of this remarkable prayer. Nehemiah’s prayer was a prayer of confidence:
Remember, I beseech Thee, the word that Thou commandedst 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. (Nehemiah 1:8-10)
Nehemiah is reminding God of what He said in His Word. He’s saying, “God, remember the promises You made. God, I’m holding You to Your Word.” Isn’t that great? That’s what real prayer is. Prayer is not thinking of some things you want and going to God with a little shopping list. Real prayer is rooted in the promises of the Word of God.
It is finding a promise in the Word of God and standing on it. God loves to hear us pray His Word back to Him. Nehemiah came to his heavenly Father audaciously. He said, “Father, I am praying in confidence. I believe You because You promised. And because You promised, Lord, I am holding You to Your Word.” We serve a great 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 Bible, which means it is something God wants to do, and then stand upon it. Pray big prayers. Big prayers can turn your big problems into big possibilities.
A PRAYER OF COMMITMENT
Nehemiah prayed a prayer of commitment. He was ready to put his feet to his petitions. Let’s read a little further in Nehemiah: 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 1:11)
Nehemiah had a very important job. He was cupbearer, as well as trusted confidant and counselor, to a lavishly wealthy king named Artaxerxes. He lived in the splendor of the king’s palace. Nehemiah had the king’s ear and he was a wonderful adviser. And you can be sure that the king took good care of Nehemiah.
We are talking about a man in a high-paying, prestigious job. Not bad for a captive and a slave. As the king’s cupbearer, Nehemiah lived in luxury—far removed from the poverty, degradation, and humiliation of the Israelites in Jerusalem. He was in a place of enviable security. He could have just said, “Let those people make their own way. I did.” But he couldn’t turn his back on his people.
God had burdened him for the people and the city. When Nehemiah visualized the condition of the fallen walls, he said, “By the grace of God, I’m going to do something about it. I’ve got to use my position of influence with the king to help my people.” As he prayed, Nehemiah felt God calling him to get involved. He asked God to bless him as he prepared to leave the safety and security of his position and put himself on the line for God’s people and God’s city. Nehemiah was committing himself to do whatever it took to accomplish the task. Now, let’s get back to the subject of prayer. It is not a substitute for commitment. It is 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.