Nehemiah 1:5-10 (ESV)
5 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, 6 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. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 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.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.
Nehemiah’s prayer is helpful for us because we are given a model for our own prayer life. Nehemiah does not simply ask God to grant him success so that he can follow his dream! No, Nehemiah starts his prayer by naming the God who he is talking to, the covenant making and keeping God of Israel. He asks God to mercifully hear his request and then confess his sins, the sins of Israel, and the sins of the Israelites who came before him. It is a realization and acknowledgement of why they are in their current horrible situation. But what he does next is something that most people miss… he reminds God of the promises that God made and asks him to fulfill those promises! His hope rests on the promises that God has made and trusting that God truly cares for his people, he goes on to ask for future success. God actually invites us to do this! Remind God of the promises he has made. Ask him to be faithful and rest in his strength alone.