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The Pillars Of A Powerful Prayer
“Then [Nehemiah] said, ‘O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps His covenant of unfailing love with those who love Him and obey His commands, listen to my prayer! . . . I confess that we have sinned against you . . . Please remember what you told your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored” . . . Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me'” (Nehemiah 1:5-11 NLT).
Throughout Scripture we are encouraged not to be afraid. In fact, we are commanded to go one step further and be strong and courageous. This is the repeated command that God gave to Joshua prior to crossing the Jordan River to begin the long-awaited conquest of the promised land of Canaan.
The command that God gave to Joshua is also His command to us today. Our strength and courage is not from our flesh but from the Spirit. We tap into a supernatural strength and courage when we pray. Sadly, many Christians grow discouraged if their prayers are not answered. God has provided us with the key to answered prayers. If we do our part, then He has promised to do His part. One of my favorite promises is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Since we know what is required of us for God to hear our prayers, we have the confidence to pray boldly. Bold prayers are an important part of a bold life, and God wants us to pray boldly. Below are a few pillars of a powerful prayer as found in Scripture.
Base your prayer on God’s character. Nehemiah started his prayer by listing God’s character traits and deeds. He prayed with confidence because he knew the nature of God. God knows His character better than we do so we don’t need to state them for His benefit. When we say, “You will never leave us. You are a faithful God. You are a loving God, etc. we do this to remind ourselves of His nature.
Confess the sins you’re aware of. God hates sin, and sin separates us from Him. Nehemiah confessed his sins. Nehemiah had not been born when Israel had gone into captivity, but he included himself in the sins of his people. Confession is essential to a bold prayer and this connection is evident in James 5:16. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Claim the promises of God. Scripture is full of promises from God to us. If we do this, He will do that. Nehemiah prayed to the Lord, saying, “Please remember what you told your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:8). What he was essential praying was, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we repent, you’d give it back to us.” Clearly, God did not need to be reminded of what He told Moses or any of His promises. We “remind” God of His promises, and character, as we pray in order to help us, not Him, remember His promise.
Be very specific about what you ask for. If you want specific answers, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if God answered them? Nehemiah boldly and specifically prayed for success. The prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10 is another example of a bold and specific prayer. “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
Let’s follow Nehemiah’s example when we pray. Proclaim God’s character, confess your sins, claim God’s promises, and make specific requests. After basing your prayer on the example of Nehemiah, then wait based on the example of the Psalmist. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry (Psalm 40:1). We live boldly, pray boldly, and we also wait boldly.
Prayer: Dear God, Your mercy and love are unfailing. We confess our sins and ask for your pardon. We ask for healing of our lands in the form of an immediate and permanent end to COVID-19. We ask for this to happen in such a way that it can only be attributed to your grace and providence. Amen.
Meet the Author
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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