pc-usa 2004-02-01 - Corporate Choir

Prayers in the Bible, Part 4

Each of us should pray individually every day. But sometimes it's God's will that we pray with our fellow Christians. The book of Nehemiah, Chapter 9 is a role model for us in this.

First the believers (in God) gathered together:

Vv. 1-2 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month, the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers......

"First things first." The first element of their prayer was adoration and praise of God.

V. 6 You alone are the LORD.
You have made the heavens,
The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it,
The seas and all that is in them.
You give life to all of them
And the heavenly host bows down before You.

Then they reminded each otherh of some of God's blessings, how He had delivered them from their oppressors:

9-10 You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt,
And heard their cry by the Red Sea.
Then You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh,
Against all his servants and all the people of his land;
For You knew that they acted arrogantly toward them,
And made a name for Yourself as it is this day.

It can be very encouraging to gather with our sisters and brothers in Christ. Those who are dealing with doubts, illnesses, employment difficulties, family problems or other pain can be uplifted by the memories of God's past provision. It bolsters faith, assuring us that God will continue to take care of us, as He has in the past.

But they also admitted their sins, as should we. Many people look forward each week to the unison prayers of confession in their churches. Of course we are supposed to pray individually. As someone has said, we should "keep short accounts of God." We don't need a go-between; we can and should pray directly to God. As Hebrews tells us, Jesus is the only priest we need, and provides direct access for us! But there is something spiritually strengthening about confessing with our Christian family.

28-32 And many times You rescued them according to Your compassion,
And admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law.
Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances,
By which if a man observes them he shall live.
And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen.

However, You bore with them for many years,
And admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets,
Yet they would not give ear.
Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.

Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them,
For You are a gracious and compassionate God.

Finally, they ask for His mercy:

Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness, Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You, Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people...

And they promise to do their part to follow the Lord better in the future.

38 Now because of all this
We are making an agreement in writing;
And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests.

If you are able to do so, you belong in a local body of Christ, worshipping, serving, learning and fellowshipping. If you are unable to join a local church, you can agree in prayer with those around you (whether in person or online).

Jan

[email jan] cfdevpray@juno.com
http://www.cfdevotionals.org