A heart, resigned, submissive, meek, My dear Redeemer’s throne;
Where only Christ is heart do speak, Where Jesus reigns alone.
A humble, lowly contrite heart, Believing, true and clean,
Which neither death nor life can part From Him that dwells within.
A heart in every thought renewed, And filled with love divine;
Perfect and right, and pure, and good, A copy, Lord, of Thine.
1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said: “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, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ 10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.
Such a heart, in full sympathy with the heart of the Eternal, beating with the pulse-beat of heave, was that of Nehemiah. It is laid bare for us in the first chapter of his book, when news is brought to him, far away in captivity, of the desolations of Zion. “The remnants 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” (verse 3). This was the situation which drew forth such burdened praying from the heart of Nehemiah.
Essential to the mighty intercession that is answered in revival is a clear vision of the need. What was it that so deeply moved this man of God? Firstly it was the people of God “in great affliction and reproach.” He saw “Ichabod” written across the nation, “the glory hath departed.” The people who had been so mightily liberated by the outstretched hand of God were again in bondage. They had been so glorious and powerful and free in the eyes of men in the days that were past, and now they had been brought so low; this was the reproach that Nehemiah continually faced as he set to work to restore the situation. “They laughed us to scorn, and despised us” (2:19); “What do these feeble Jews?” (4:2). “Hear, O our God; for we are despised; and turn back their reproach upon their own head” (4:4). Since they were God’s people and called by His Name, a reproach upon them was a reproach upon Him. The glory of God was involved. This is the situation today. God is jealous for His great Name because His church, which should be “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners” (song. 6:10), is all too often in bondage and affliction, the scorn and laughing-stock of the world.
Secondly, Nehemiah visualized “the wall of Jerusalem broken down.” The wall was the line of demarcation, that which separated those within from those without. A city without walls was defenseless and easy prey to every enemy marauder. In a great measure it is true today that the walls of the city have been broken down, the church has lost her mark of separation, her defenses are departed from her, and she is vulnerable to every attack of Satan.
Finally, “the gates thereof are burned with fire.” The gates were the key to the control of every city. In the gates sat the rulers of the city, the elders, the nobles, and the judges (Deut. 22:15; Job 29:7-10; Prov. 31:23). When the gates were burned, authority and dominion were destroyed, and the people were subdued. In the days of the early church “the gates of the city” were intact. God’s people knew the authority which was theirs in the Name of Jesus, and in their preaching and their praying and their working they used to the full that authority.
The need of the hour is for men of the stamp of Nehemiah to sound an alarm in God’s holy mountain, to open our eyes that we may “see the evil case that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire,” and to bring the challenge, “Let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach” (Neh. 2:17).
“And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and I fasted and prayed before the God of
heaven” (1:4). In the reaction to spiritual need the state of the heart is revealed. The Savior could not look upon the multitudes going astray as sheep not having a shepherd without being moved with compassion. He could not look out over the Jerusalem that had heard His word and witnessed His power and yet rejected His message without weeping. How we need to pray, “Lord crucified, give me a heart like Thine.” Such a heart had Nehemiah. If it had been otherwise he might have quieted his conscience and soothed his feelings with the thought that Jerusalem was far away, that he was well cared for in Shushan the palace, and that the desolations of Zion were no fault of his, so why need he be concerned? He could have argued that this situation was in consequence of the people’s sin-the other people’s; and that it was up to them, not him, to remedy it. He might have fortified himself in his indifference by asserting that the end of the dispensation was at hand, that judgment on their departure from God was predicted, and therefore there was no hope of recovery or of revival until the coming of Messiah. But how different was his attitude!
If this was a time when Jerusalem was tempted to say, “Jehovah hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me,” then God was ready to answer with the tenderness of a nursing mother for her child, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls [broken down though they may be] are continually before Me” (Is. 49:14-16). Because Nehemiah’s heart was in sympathy with God he could not contemplate her afflictions without mourning, nor could he love her without weeping. Prevailing prayer requires a tender, compassionate heart, a deep solicitude for the glory of God and the good of His people. Nehemiah wept and mourned. While our praying is cold and formal and tearless we need not expect God to work for us as he did for Nehemiah. It is he that “goeth on his way weeping” who may expect to “come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps. 126:6). “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
In Summary, the key to effective intercession based on Nehemiah Chapter 1 is:
-The ability to discern when the burden requires prayer and fasting
-Focusing on the sovereignty of God, on the mountain mover and not the mountain
-Persistence in Prayer
-Confession of all sins
-Relating to the persons for whom intercessions are being made
-Praying the Word of God back to Him and reminding Him of His promises to His people
-Approaching the throne with Humility and Reverence
Lord God we approach your throne of grace with confidence and in humility. We confess our sins Lord. The sins that we are aware of and those that we don’t know that we are committing against you on a daily basis. We ask you for forgiveness and we accept your mercy. Lord we are asking you to give us a heart of intercession for lost souls and for the restoration of your people. Lord help us to always pray from a heart that has been made right by your Spirit and Your truth. We ask you that you reveal to us our motives and make us pure in our requests. Help us to see the ones that we intercede for as You see them. Give us Your eyes and Your heart for Your people. Bring to our mind and imprint upon our hearts the promises that You have made to us according to Your holy Word. Let us have faith in Your word and trust that Your promises are true and all of Your word will come to pass. We love you Lord and we thank You for loving us. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Excerpts taken from the book, In the Day of Thy Power by Arthur Wallis.
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