Nehemiah#6 - Prayer and God's promisesWe can claim God's promises from Scripture. Nehemiah is not the only person in Scripture who does so. The real question is whether it is God or us who needs reminding of His promises. I am convinced, once again that the "claiming" of this promise has more to do with Nehemiah's reassurance than it does with the "twisting" of God's arm.
By remembering God's promises we recapture a clear picture of His nature, character, and plan. When things look like God is not in control, these promises remind us of His ultimate control. If prayer is a dialogue, then these remembered promises (although they are in our mouths) are God's reassurance to us that our prayer will be heard.
But there's more... There is a clear note in the tone of the prayer that indicates that Nehemiah is completely comfortable "haggling" with God. This also has precedent in Scripture. At one point when God is considering the harshest possible judgement for the wandering Israelites who had worshiped the golden calf, Moses prays that God would "relent" (the original Hebrew has overtones of "repent"!!!) from this course of action. Abraham "negotiates" with God over Sodom and Gomorrah. ("If I find 50, no make that 40, no make that 20, no make that 10 righteous people will You still destroy the city?")
In the army a junior officer has to ask for "permission to speak freely." With God, our permission is granted.
The last point is that the promise Nehemiah claims here is conditional. Nehemiah would have clearly understood that his "claiming" of this promised place a burden on him and the people too. A relationship is a two way street....
|Remember the instruction You gave Your servant Moses, saying, "If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 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." (Nehemiah1:8-9)|
We'll take a break from our series of prayer for the Month of Mission Series which starts tomorrow!!