Prayer is an indispensable action of the Christian disciple. If you are a Christian believer, there is no question. You must be fervent in prayer. Having an active prayer life is an essential foundation to every believer which cannot be stressed enough. With this, it is also of high importance to know the in’s and out’s of what a healthy prayer life looks like. Knowing what both prayer is and what to pray yields great fruit when engaging in intimate, relational conversation with the Father. Oh, and also, it will radically transform your life.
Nehemiah 1 serves as a great example when it comes to prayer. Both for understanding what prayer is, and what we should pray in general. In this chapter, Nehemiah learns of the despairing condition of Jerusalem and its people, despite the patronage granted to Ezra about 13 years prior. His response to this information is astonishing: immediate, intimate prayer. Nehemiah prays to “the great and awesome God” (Nehemiah 1:5) in a sweet melody of faithful prayer that echoes a loving heart for the Father and His people.
“And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,”Nehemiah 1:5 ESV
There are four characteristics of Nehemiah’s prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Derived from this prayer are “The Four ACTS of Prayer”. This acronym is a helpful tool that is widely used by many believers when deciding what to pray, and it proves to be extremely effective. Personally, whenever I structure my prayers this way, I find myself more vulnerable in laying everything out before God. Consider Nehemiah’s prayer too: he prayed in adoration of the Father, confessed the sins on behalf of himself and Israel, gave thanks to God, and asked for supplication on behalf of Israel. Likewise, every prayer of ours should be overflowing with adoration of the Father, confession of sin, thanksgiving for God’s goodness and faithfulness, and supplication on behalf of others.
Nothing compares to coming to God intentionally and intimately in an act of conversational worship. Prayer alone is worship, and is an irreplaceable tool in our Christian arsenal. Guided by the Holy Spirit, our prayer is a relational conversation with God that is indescribably amazing. Prayer matters, and the way you pray also matters. So, pray in adoration, confession, thankfulness, and supplication. Also, know that you are talking with God, so come to Him with everything. After all, He already knows what we are going to pray even before we pray it. He is the One who desires to talk to You, so talk with Him in humble prayer!
“Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”Matthew 6:8 ESV
“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.”Nehemiah 1:4-11 ESV
- How can you be like Nehemiah in your prayer life?
- What are some ways you can practice “The Four ACTS of Prayer”?
- What are things in your life you should be praying about?