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Monday, April 23, 2018

Four Secrets to Answered Prayer: Praise, Thanksgiving, Repentance, and Be Specific

In review of Nehemiah 1:5-6, 8-9, 11 it says, “Then [Nehemiah] said, ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! . . . I confess that we have sinned against you . . . . Please remember what you told your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.” . . . Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me’” (NLT).

Today’s passages come from the first part of Nehemiah 1. Regarding the situation in Jerusalem and what needs to be done, Nehemiah prays, “Oh God, who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned against you. We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses. Please remember what you told your servant Moses: 'If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored. The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”

In this passage Nehemiah in reference to God's covenant of unfailing love, refers to God's promise to love the descendants of Abraham.  Nehemiah fasted and prayed for several days, expressing his sorrow for Israel's sin and his desire that Jerusalem would again come alive with the worship of the one true God. Nehemiah demonstrated the elements of effective prayer: 1). praise, 2) thanksgiving, 3) repentance, 4) specific requests and 5) commitment.

Heartfelt prayers like Nehemiah's can help clarify; 1) any problem I'm facing, 2) God's great power to help, and 3) the job I have to do. By the end of his prayer time, Nehemiah know what action he had to take. When I pray, difficult decisions will fall into proper perspective, and appropriate actions follow.

I am unique and capable of serving no matter what my position. Just a Nehemiah used his place as the king's trusted servant to intercede for his people, I can use my present position to serve God.

Nehemiah prayed for success in this venture, not just for the strength to cope with his problems. Yet the success he prayed for was not for personal advantage, position or acclaim. He requested success for God's work. When God's purposes are at work, don't hesitate to ask for success.

Here are four secrets to answered prayer I see from the life of Nehemiah:

1. Base my request on God’s character. Pray like you know God will answer me: “I’m expecting God to answer this prayer because of who He is. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!”

2. Confess the sins I’m aware of. After Nehemiah based his prayer on who God is, he confessed his sins. He said, “We have sinned.” It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that Israel went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened, and he was most likely born in captivity. Yet he included himself in the national sins. He said, “I’ve been a part of the problem.”

3. Claim the promises of God. Nehemiah prayed to the Lord, saying, “I want you to remember what you told your servant Moses.” Can you imagine telling God to “remember”? Nehemiah reminded God of a promise made to the nation of Israel. In effect, he prayed, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we would repent, you’d give it back to us.” God doesn’t need me to remind him of what he promised. But I do this, because it helps me remember what He has promised.

4. Be specific in what you ask for. If I want specific answers to prayer, then make specific requests. If my prayers consist of general requests, how will I know if they’re answered?

Nehemiah was not hesitant to pray for success. He was very bold in his praying. I too can pray “Lord, make me successful?” If I don’t, why? What is the alternative? A failure?

I’m finding that it’s okay to ask God to make me successful. But It depends on my definition of success. I believe a good definition of success is “fulfilling God’s purpose for my life in faith, love, and the power of the Holy Spirit and expecting the results from God.” That is a worthy life objective that I should be able to pray for with confidence.

I should consider this: If I can’t ask God to make me a success at what I’m doing, I should be doing something else. God doesn’t want me to waste my life.

Bottom Line:
God keeps his covenant of unfailing love as we love and obey him. Ask him to grant success in our situations.

What this means to me:
My great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of unfailing love as I love and obey his commands. Please grant me success in my situation.

This mornings study has helped me remember that effective prayer on my part should start with praise, thanksgiving and my repentance of sins that I am aware of. Then to be specific in my request and commitments. As I do this I can look forward to clarifying the problem I'm facing, God’s great power to help, and the job that I will need to do. I can pray not just for success to do God’s work (and not just my personal advantage) know that God will answer.

As I relate this study today, my work comes to mind. There are so many things that my team needs to do help the organization in the short term. Often these things appear to be demands. I feel the disappointment and the high standards and perfection that are expected. I pray this morning Father that you help me organize and communicate the tasks at hand. Grant me some grace as I work through the team who reports to me. Allow me to serve those in the organization and my team. Help me to guide their perspective, to be a service oriented organization that helps us achieve our goals. Help me to realize that it’s not about me and my looking good. It’s about accomplishing what you want to do through me with those who are around me. In Jesus name, amen.

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