Prayer for Restoration

Prayer is essential for spiritual awakening.

The Jew Nehemiah, as cupbearer bear to the king of Persia, was a high official in the Persian government. When he learned that the wall of Jerusalem had not been rebuilt, 90 years after the first Jews had settled in Jerusalem after the captivity, he became burdened to go to Jerusalem and supervise the rebuilding of the wall himself. He fasted and prayed earnestly that God would intervene providentially to allow him to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. As this lesson reveals, God heard Nehemiah and granted his petition. This lesson examines Nehemiah‘s desire to help his people, the Jews in Jerusalem; his prayer for that purpose; and the results of his prayer.


A. Nehemiah and His Setting

Neh 1:1  The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

…….By the end of the Babylonian captivity (536) BC, many Jews in Babylon were prosperous and respected members of society, working as merchants, bankers, and officials of the government. Their prosperity continued throughout the era of the Persian empire (537 to 331 BC), with Nehemiah‘s position as a cup bearer to the king of Persia being an evidence of this. Unlike Zerubbabel, the first governor of the Persian province of Judea, who was a descendent of King David; and unlike Ezra, the later governor of Judea, who was a priest and scribe, it appears that Nehemiah had no distinguished Jewish ancestry. Nevertheless, he had risen to the position of cup bearer to the king of Persia, which was one of the most important offices in the government, because cupbearers protected the king for being poisoned by food or drink. Aside from the fact that Nehemiah was the son of Hachaliah, we know nothing of his lineage, and we know nothing about Hachaliah. Nehemiah‘s distinction is that God chose him to serve as governor of the Jews in Judea, to rebuild the wall and City of Jerusalem. Nehemiah served as governor of Judea from 444 BC to probably several years past 432 BC. The setting for the initial events told in the book of Nehemiah began in the month Chisleu, in the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes I (465-425 BC). That was, in November/December, 445 BC, in the capital City of Shushan, the Persian kings winter residence.

B. The Need in Jerusalem

Neh 1:2  That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

…….One thing that strikes me in this second verse is the fact that Nehemiah was someone his brethren could turn to in time of need.

Neh 1:3  And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

…….Although the Temple had been completed, the wall was still In the ancient world, a city without walls and gates for defense against enemies was regarded as no city at all. Jerusalem at this time was a city and people who were still trying to recover from being destroyed and its people taken into Babylonian captivity with minimal resources and leadership. They were trying to survive accompanied by the anxiety of others coming in freely to oppress them.

Neh 1:4  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,

…….After hearing the news, Nehemiah turned to the God that he knew could and would fix the problem and poured out his all. This thought has been on my mind so heavily just within the past few days, “are we doing enough?”. Have we become so comfortable at the place that the Lord has brought us to in our particular ministry that we have become settled? Nehemiah was right where most anyone would have loved to be! In the king’s palace, sitting at his table eating the same meals, having every convenience possible. But no, he was troubled that his brethren were afflicted. Too many times the people within the body of the church say, “not my fight”, but it is. Everything my neighbor is going through should affect me. This is how the body of Christ grows.


A. Praise and Prayer of Confession

Neh 1:5  And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God (most highly honored and regarded with reverential fear), that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

…….In order to ask anything of God we must first understand His position in our life, and approach Him with great humility. For God to be in our life He must be ruler and maintain authority in our lives. Is He truly LORD (supreme authority) of our life?

Neh 1:6  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.

Neh 1:7  We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

…….I love the fact that though he had not been to Jerusalem, he included himself in being guilty of the sins of his people. Not only did he confess of the sins but also of not performing the righteous acts that were commanded of them. Living a godly life is more than not doing, it is also based on what we are doing for the Kingdom of Heaven. I say it all the time, we are only as strong as our weakest link.

B. Prayer for Covenant Loyalty and Success

Neh 1:8  Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

Neh 1:9  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.

…….Nehemiah here is citing scripture that are the words of the Lord. Though Nehemiah had not been within the city for many years, he didn’t need to be accompanied by righteous people to know righteousness.

Neh 1:10  Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

Neh 1:11  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.

…….From these scriptures alone we learn the Nehemiah knew the word of God and His promises concerning His people. Hosea 4:6 says: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Question: if every resource that has been provided to learn about the Lord was no longer freely available, would it stick? If you became rich and no longer had to seek the wisdom of the Lord for financial provision would you still give Him honor and glory? Would persecution bring you closer to the Lord, or cause you to forget?


A. Nehemiah’s Prayer Before the King

Neh 2:1  And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.

……. News about the broken down walls and gates of Jerusalem came to Nehemiah in the month of Chislev. That was November-December 445 BC. Then, approximately four months later, in the month of Nissan (March-April), Nehemiah made his request to the king of Persia that he be sent to Jerusalem to reveal the cities wall and gates. Doubtlessly, during this whole time, Nehemiah had continued in prayer, punctuated with times of fasting, as he sought God’s favor and direction for fulfilling his desire to rebuild Jerusalem.

Neh 2:2  Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,

…….It was expected of the Kings officers to have a pleasant demeanor in his presence. Failure to do so could result in punishment by death. Being the cup bearer, he had better have a really good explanation as to approaching him in sorrow. However, the king knew Nehemiah well enough to realize his sadness was not because of displeasure with the king, but was caused by some personal concern that gave Nehemiah sorrow of heart.

Neh 2:3  And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

Neh 2:4  Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.

……. I can often think of the times that I have messed up opportunities that I needed to go my way because I didn’t seek the Lord instantly. No matter how long we have prayed for God to move in our lives, when the opportunity is given we must always turn back to the Lord for him to fulfill the desires of our hearts.

B. Nehemiah’s Requests Before the King

Neh 2:5  And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

Neh 2:6  And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

Neh 2:7  Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;

Neh 2:8  And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.

…….Not only was Nehemiah granted the permission to leave, but he rallied Jerusalem to build the walls of the city in 52 days, which was a miracle within itself. Shortly after, he was also granted the opportunity to stay at Jerusalem and become the governor of Jerusalem. Nehemiah is a superb Biblical model of a godly leader in government: a man of wisdom, principle, courage, impeccable integrity, unwavering faith, compassion for the oppressed, and great gifts in leadership and organization. Throughout his years as governor, Nehemiah remained righteous, humble, free from greed, self-sacrificing, and uncorrupted by his prominence or power. He was a man who accomplished seemingly impossible tasks because of his complete dependence on God. Nehemiah was also regarded as a man of prayer.

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