Prayer is simply talking with the Lord. It is talking with the almighty King of the universe whose righteousness and glory surpasses anything that resides on this earth. And He is the Sovereign Maker who loves His image bearers enough to send His Son to release their incredible debt. The God we talk to is radically different from us in every way: in His goodness, in His love, in His sovereignty, in His strength, in His wisdom, and in every way imaginable. Intimate prayer always leads to confession of sin after a heartfelt adoration of the Father.
Nehemiah 1 continues to be an excellent example of an intimate prayer. The “Four ACTS of Prayer” (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) are easily identified in His prayer, and can be replicated in anyone’s daily prayer life.
“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.’Nehemiah 1:4-11 ESV
Now I was cupbearer to the king.”
Confession of sin is what follows intense adoration of the Father. In Nehemiah’s prayer, this is exactly the case. After he spends time praising God for His goodness and faithfulness, he goes into a time of sincere confession. Nehemiah confesses “the sins of the people of Israel” and even includes himself in saying “Even I and my father’s house have sinned.” within verse six. Nehemiah understands that true adoration of God leads to confession of sin.
Adoration will always lead to confession of sin. This is because God is incredibly better than us in every way. His love, wisdom, glory, righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, goodness, justness, radically differ from those very same attributes that we possess. Understanding the gap between the infinite God and finite humanity leads to a sincere confession of faultiness and brokenness that is only healed through Jesus.
Take time in prayer confessing your sinfulness and brokenness. Spend some time, also, digesting how much better God is than you, and let that understanding bring you to your knees in intimate prayer.
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’
They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity;
there is none who does good.
God looks down from heaven
on the children of man
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
They have all fallen away;
together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.
Have those who work evil no knowledge,
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon God?
There they are, in great terror,
where there is no terror!
For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you;
you put them to shame, for God has rejected them.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.”Psalm 53 ESV
- How can you be like Nehemiah when confessing your sinfulness?
- Do you confess your sinfulness in prayer? If not, now is the time to start!
- What can you confess to God in prayer?