“Essentials In Prayer”
It is important for Christians to remember that prayer is a central component of who we are as servants of God. To fully appreciate its power and place in our lives, we must also be careful so as to not only look at prayer through a New Testament lens. That is, we can't only think of communicating to God in terms of what we learn in the New Testament but must take advantage of what is said about prayer in the longer, more detailed Old Testament. In the first chapter of Nehemiah, we read a passionate prayer of the great man himself as he spoke to God. In reading this prayer, we learn a number of essentials for effective prayer today.
First, prayer isn't intended to be a, "One-time and done" event. Note that in Nehemiah 1:4 that Nehemiah says that he mourned, wept, fasted, and prayed for many days. Nehemiah certainly had something to be sad about and the same is true today. With that being the case, we should not expect to simply pray to God once and then never appeal to Him again. Great men of prayer seek God often!
Second, prayer should include ardent praise of our wonderful Creator. In verse five of the same chapter, Nehemiah describes God as both "great and awesome."
And, this great man of God considers God as THE One who is faithful to consistently keep His merciful promises. When we go to God in prayer, we ought to never forget that we are speaking to THE God of all creation. He is spectacular and it's important that we take the time to acknowledge that fact.
Third, there's no reason to pray to God unless one is ready to be fully transparent with Him. Nehemiah acknowledged both his sins and those of the people by confessing their sinfulness (Nehemiah 1:6-7). When we pray, we should be like Nehemiah and learn from his humility as we speak to the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator.
Finally, our prayers should acknowledge our knowledge of God, His will, and His commandments. Note the Nehemiah spoke of God's "commandments" and called Israel His "servants," clearly expressing his understanding of God's plans for His people. When we pray, we should not do so to "tell God" about His own plans -- indeed, He is a very self-aware God who knows what He's about. Yet, when we see great men in the Bible speaking to Him and acknowledging His plans, it tells us that we should do the same.
Let us use this passage to help us pray more fervently to our wonderful God, knowing what a privilege it is to do so!