Read: Nehemiah 9:7-21
But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious, and merciful, slow to become angry, and full of unfailing love and mercy. (Neh. 9:17 NLT)
There are many amazing prayers recorded in the Holy Scriptures. None of which are more important than the three prayers involving the captivity and return of the Jewish people. All three – Ezra 9, Nehemiah 9, and Daniel 9 – begin with confession of sin and end with praise for the LORD. Ezra was heartbroken because of the sin of mixed marriages, while Nehemiah and the people confessed the sins of their forefathers and praised the greatness, goodness, and grace of God. The leaders cried out, “Stand up and prove the LORD your God; for he lives from everlasting to everlasting” (9:5). Daniel bowed the knee three times a day to pray for his brethren in Jerusalem.
Israel expressed the kind of worship that we all need to practice. We see them reading the Word of God, confessing their sins in prayer, exhorting their brethren to follow the law, and separating themselves wholly unto the Lord. It is in the Holy Scriptures that God reveals himself to his people. Nehemiah’s prayer teaches us that self-examination is an essential part of worship and honest confession brings cleansing and forgiveness.
I have listened to many prayers of God’s people in the past fifty plus years and I find that the main request always seems to be for physical needs. Very seldom have I heard requests being made for spiritual needs. This was quite the opposite for the Apostle Paul.
To the Ephesians he asks God to give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation, enlightenment, hope, riches and greatness (1:16-19). To the Philippians he prayed that their love would abound more and more (1:9-11). To the Colossians he asked that they might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (1:9=12). Go back and read these passages and tell me what you find? Right! No requests made for physical healing – only spiritual needs. This is not to say that God doesn’t delight in hearing requests for physical healing, but I do believe he would love to hear us pray for spiritual needs first.
Are you more concerned about physical needs than spiritual needs? Perhaps it would be good to revisit our priorities. Should we not be praying for the spiritual as well as the physical needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ?