We’re looking for better methods, machinery, and motivations, which are all okay, but God is looking for people to use. He is looking for leaders.
And for God to use the leaders, they must be men and women of God.
We have a sample of a leader’s prayer in the book of Nehemiah. You can learn a lot about people by the kinds of prayers they pray.
Remember that Nehemiah, when he first heard about the downfall of Jerusalem, prayed for four months before taking action. This is not just a casual prayer. The prayer we’re going to look at this week is just a sample prayer he prayed. It gives us a pattern for successful praying. If you want to know how to pray as a leader, study the book of Nehemiah, and particularly examine the prayer Nehemiah prays in the first chapter.
Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah.
1. Base your requests on God’s character.
Pray like you know God will answer you . . .
I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. 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!
Nehemiah went to God and said in chapter 1, verse 5, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands” (NIV).
Nehemiah said three things about God:
- You’re great—that’s God’s position.
- You’re awesome—that shows his power.
- You keep your promises—God’s covenant.
The first thing Nehemiah did was to acknowledge who God is. That’s what praise is. And the beginning of seeing prayer answered is believing that God answers prayer and asking him, based on his character and his promises, to listen and to act.
2. Confess the sin in your life.
After Nehemiah based his prayer on God’s character, he confessed his sins. Repeatedly in his prayer, Nehemiah said the words “I” and “we.” He says “I confess . . . myself . . . my father’s house . . . we have acted very wickedly . . . we have not obeyed” and so on throughout this passage.
It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault they went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when this happened 70 years earlier. He was most likely born in captivity. Yet he was including himself in the national sins. Our society has taught us we’re only responsible for ourselves. And that’s just not true! You are your brother’s keeper. We are all in this together.
Leaders accept the blame, other’s pass the buck. If you want to be a leader, you accept the blame and share the credit.
3. Claim the promises of God.
Nehemiah was praying to the Lord and saying, “I want you to remember what you told your servant Moses.” Can you imagine saying “remember” to God?
He was reminding God about what he had said in the past. David did this, too. So did Abraham, Moses, and all of the prophets.
Does God have to be reminded? No. Does he forget what he’s promised? No. Then why do we do this? Because it helps us remember what God has promised.
Nothing pleases God more than when you remind him of one of his promises.
4. Be specific in what you ask for.
If you want specific answers to prayer, you need to make specific requests. If you make general prayers, how will you know if they are answered?
Nehemiah was very bold in his praying. Have you ever prayed, “Lord, make me successful”? If you haven’t, why haven’t you?
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 you should be able to pray for with confidence.
Pray boldly. Pray that God will make you successful in life for the glory of God.
If you can’t ask God to bless what you’re doing, then you’d better start doing something else. God doesn’t want you to waste your life.
Praying this way grows and stretches our own faith, and it invites God to work in, around, and through us in powerful ways!