Prayers of Desperation

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Nehemiah 1:1–11

1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Please take a minute to read the entire chapter noticing the desperation of Nehemiah.  In his heart, the condition of Jerusalem was a life-or-death situation.  The burden of Jerusalem’s safety and the safety of the people who lived there and had rebuilt the Temple and were worshipping there was heavy on Nehemiah.  He fasted, he prayed, his face showed his great concern (as we read in chapter 2).  The need of Jerusalem was changing his life and he just could not get away from the burden.

When was the last time you were so burdened?  When was the last time that you recognized life-and-death in the balance and prayed as though your life or someone else’s life depended upon it?

As we study and focus on prayer I am seeing this attitude throughout the Bible.  Instead of giving you examples, I would like you to think about this on your own.  How many biblical situations record prayers that came from someone in a desperate situation?  If you would make a list of these and send them to me I would compare and compile it and share it with you tomorrow.

When life or death is on the line our prayers change, our lives change.  When we become that desperate in prayer our very lives change and that is one of the primary purposes in prayer.  For when we change as we pray God hears and God answers.  He did for Nehemiah.  As you compile your list of others who prayed like this, whose lives were changed, you will see that God consistently responds to this type of prayer.

What is life-or death for you?  Think about this today and see if it changes the way you pray today.

I have two specific prayer requests to bring to you today.  Here is the description of Austin’s two-day surgery: they are going to be removing part of his vertebrae from a non-cancerous tumor. His mom says it is very serious they will be cutting into an artery he could also have a stroke they will be replacing vertebrae w/screws & hardware  it will be a  two day surgery.  Austin is a friend of Natalie Ludwig.  He is fifteen years old.


Ayrin Molefe’s  mother, Imelda Calachan who lives in the Philippines is in congestive heart failure with water in her lungs. 


Both of these people in very serious physical condition need Christ.  Let us bond together in prayer that God would bring them to Himself in their hour of the shadow of death. 


As always, I appreciate your prayers in our community service at Sunrise on Tuesday mornings.


I was praying this morning for God to show Himself strong and bring children to our VBS next week.  It looks like a good weather week.  Recognize the life-and-death nature of this outreach and pray for God to bring children in. 


Have a great day in the Lord, PS



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