Thursday, January 21, 2010

When We Pray...

"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," Nehemiah 1:5

God hears the voices of His children.

As I read the first chapter of Nehemiah for about the twelfth time in as many days, I cannot help but think about how much Nehemiah's prayers must have pleased God. These words that he prayed are the very words that a very patient God has been waiting to hear from his beloved children.

"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.' " Nehemiah 1:6-9

Here Nehemiah prays on behalf of all the people. He confesses that they have sinned, they have done wrong and not followed God's commands, but then he also confesses to God that they are ready for change. They are ready to turn around and follow His commands and His laws.

Like the prodigal son, ready to return home, Nehemiah bares all before God, and reminds God of the very words that God had given to Moses hundreds of years earlier.

Nehemiah is praying to God and and praying the very words of truth, scripture that comes from the very mouth of God.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

When I think about this whole exchange, I just know that God was so pleased and so happy with the people of Israel. We have a patient God, but as he watched and waited and watched and waited, I wonder if he ever just shook his head, watching them make wrong decision after wrong decision. And then, it finally happens. The people desire Him once again, and as one, they all seek to make change and love and glorify the Lord their God.

"all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel." Nehemiah 8:1

All the people assembled as one. Unity. And after that book of law came out, the people sat for hours while it was read to them. Then they began to praise God- again, as one!

"Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground." Nehemiah 8:6

Now God must be just getting giddy! First He hears the beloved prayers of His children, confessing their wrong and choosing to do right. And then He hears the praises of His people!

I can't help but think that this is exactly what God has been waiting for from us. He's waiting for His children to read His Word and pray His Word and praise Him- all in one accord. Imagine the great works that could be done if we could reach out of our denomination walls and take the hands of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Imagine if we could set aside our differences and our interpretation of doctrine, and simply agree to love God, and to work together to love our neighbors.

Let's go back to the verse in 2 Timothy for a minute.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

Study, to show yourself approved unto God. As I read this verse, it just tells me that I really need to keep digging into the word of God. When I think about the act of writing a book... an author really does want his words to be read. A person doesn't just write and then go through the process of publishing a book for that book to be set on a shelf and ignored. I have to think that an author loves it when people continue to read the words that they have written. Well, God wrote the greatest book of all! And He wants us to read it over and over. He wants us to study it and dig into it and learn it well so that in a time of need we can reach into our minds and pull out the very verses that will aid us in our times of need.

He wants us to learn His words, so that when we pray, we will see the mountains move and the seas part before us. God gave us the very tools we need, we just need to take the time to read His Word and take it in.

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