Ten Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah
by Lovett H. Weems, Jr.

The prophet Nehemiah provides modern day leaders a wonderful model of leadership. Upon learning of the distress of his people, Nehemiah receives permission from the king he was serving to go help them. Despite obstacles and opposition, he discerns a challenging vision and leads the people in accomplishing it.

While Nehemiah was the leader who first articulated the vision, the people confirmed the vision and committed themselves to the task. The gifts of all were required to achieve the vision. Accomplishing the vision was not easy. Divisions and hard feelings, combined with outside opposition, made faithfulness very difficult. Yet, Nehemiah and the people persevered faithfully, though not perfectly.

Below are some lessons we might learn from Nehemiah’s leadership example.

1. God’s leader responds to a call

God has always called leaders. Leaders must hear God’s calling to lead and respond to that call. Nehemiah understands his leadership as a calling from God (Nehemiah 2:12b). Nehemiah listened and came to see the need (1:1-4).

2. God’s leader cares for the people and their situation

Nehemiah listened to the voice of the people. He showed care for their situation. Nehemiah identified with the people. He thought in terms of “we” and “us” ( 2:17, 20). He came to understand and identify with “the trouble we are in” ( 2:17).

3. God’s leader helps define the reality of the situation

When Nehemiah said, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned,” he was not describing his personal agenda but assessing the common situation faced by all the people. Unless the reality can be described honestly, progress is impossible. “Nothing is more limiting to a group,” says Peter Senge, “than the inability to talk about the truth.”

4. God’s direction and vision are sought by the leader and people

Nehemiah was always asking God to provide a vision for him. He understood that a true vision must come from God. It must be a God-inspired and God-revealed vision. Only such a vision is worthy of leadership. The vision must be “what God has put into my heart” ( 2:12). The vision emerged in the midst of a devastating situation. It would have been easier to give up in despair, but God’s leader always seeks God’s vision, even in difficult times.

5. Prayer is essential to know God’s will

Prayer is the fundamental act for people of God. God’s leaders and God’s people must be in the right place to hear God’s voice. God can speak to us at any time, but if we are not turning our hearts toward God to seek God’s guidance, it is more difficult for God’s vision to reach our hearts. The prophet Habakkuk climbed into the tower believing that God had a vision for him and his people. Habakkuk was willing to wait for the vision, but knew that he needed to put himself in a position to receive it.

6. God’s vision is simple

God’s vision tends to be very simple. People build complicated systems, but God’s will is often extremely simple. For Nehemiah and his people the vision was captured in three words: “rebuild the wall.” There were many needs, hopes, and dreams of the people, but God’s vision for the immediate future was captured in rebuilding the wall. Without this vision, the other needs could not be met.

7. God’s leader builds a team

Nehemiah gained the trust of the people. This permitted him to build a team that could make the vision happen. People shared responsibility to accomplish the goal. No one person, not even Nehemiah, could accomplish this vision alone. Nehemiah began with a few, then he expanded the team to include virtually everyone. The people committed themselves to the “common good” (2:18b). The talents of the people were named and used (chapter 3). Different people worked on different sections of the wall. People were assigned to work closest to their homes.

But even God’s people get tired. They felt the task was taking too much time and was too difficult. There were internal disputes. Someone has said, “Everything looks like failure in the middle.” But Nehemiah was able to find ways to alleviate their concerns without losing the vision.

8. God’s leader keeps the real purpose before the people

It is easy for people to forget the purpose behind the vision even as they work to fulfill it. The vision was to rebuild the wall, but the wall was not the important part of the vision. The wall was a means to a larger purpose. What Nehemiah and his people were really about was reclaiming their identity as people of faith. What was at stake was not just a wall but indeed their very faith (Chapter 8; 12:27). Nehemiah had to make sure the people were reminded of their ancient faith. Because their task was tied to a larger purpose, they put their hearts into their work and were able to complete the task in 52 days ( 6:15-16). What an amazing feat this was.

9. God’s leader is not discouraged by adversity

As they rebuilt the wall, they were ridiculed and mocked. Their enemies did everything possible to discourage them. They threatened to tell untrue stories about Nehemiah. Nehemiah listened but persisted. Nehemiah knew he was “doing a great work” (6:3) and could not come down from the wall to debate with the enemies. Nehemiah persisted even when adversity came. God’s people cannot give up when adversity comes.

10. God always has another vision

When people work so hard to accomplish a great goal, the temptation is to want to stop and rest. God’s people should stop and celebrate victories, just as Nehemiah and his people did; but God is never finished with us. After we give thanks to God for bringing us to a new place on our journey, then we must turn again to God in prayer asking, “What, now, is your will for us?” It is time for revisioning.

We are always on a journey with God. We rest for a brief time, but we do not stop. We keep seeking the new land that God is calling us to reach. God always has something else for us to do. We cannot become what God wants us to be by remaining what we are.

Nehemiah – Walking in Prayer

Do you feel that your prayers are repetitious and not very effective? Is your prayer life up to the challenge of a crisis situation? This week we meet a man who responded to a crisis by calling on the God of heaven. Nehemiah prayed with confidence, humility, and power. Learn from Nehemiah and your prayer life may never be the same!

Step into the Story

It had been almost one hundred years since the first Jewish exiles returned to their homeland from Babylon. Although the Temple had been rebuilt, the walls were broken down, leaving the people without protection from their enemies. When Nehemiah heard the news, he responded with prayer and action.

Nehemiah’s Prayer
Read Nehemiah 1.

The book of Nehemiah begins between mid-November and mid-December in the twentieth year of the reign of King Artaxerxes (approximately 446 B.C.) in the city of Susa in Persia (modern day Iran). Chapter two takes places several months later in the spring of 445 B.C.12

1. What report did Nehemiah receive about Jerusalem? What was his response? (v.3-4)

In the ancient Middle East, a city wall provided protection for the inhabitants. The condition of the city wall was also seen as an indication of the strength of the people’s gods. The ruined condition of the wall of Jerusalem reflected badly on God’s name.13

2. As Nehemiah began his prayer, what words and phrases did he use to praise God? (v.5)

3. Whose sins did Nehemiah confess? Who were these sins against? What were the sins they had committed? (v.7)

4. On what basis did Nehemiah make His appeal in v.10? Did he mention what good people they had been?

5. What was Nehemiah’s request? (v.11) What position did Nehemiah hold in the royal court?

6. Have you ever suddenly found yourself in a crisis situation? What was your first response? Did you immediately pray to the God of heaven or did you take matters into your own hands to try to fix the situation? How could Nehemiah’s example help you in the future when you face overwhelming circumstances?

God’s Answer.
Nehemiah 2

1. When the king asked Nehemiah why he was sad, how did Nehemiah respond? (v.3)

2. After Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah what he was requesting, Nehemiah prayed again. What was Nehemiah’s request in verse 6?

3. According to verse 8, why did the king grant Nehemiah’s request?

4. Can you recall a time when you made a successful appeal to someone in authority over you? Did you give yourself credit for being persuasive or for making a good case for what you wanted? Did you see God at work in your situation?

Nehemiah was a man of prayer. Ten recorded prayers range from the quick “arrow prayer” (Neh. 2:4) to the Bible’s longest prayer (Neh. 9). The walk of faith is a balanced blend of prayer and action. Nehemiah prayed and then put his request before the king (Neh. 2:3,4); he prayed and then “set a watch” (Neh. 4:9). He exhorted the people to “remember the Lord …and fight” (Neh. 4:14).14

Journey through the Principle

As cupbearer, Nehemiah held an important position in the royal court. His responsibility and position of trust gave him unusual access to the king. After Nehemiah received the report about Jerusalem, he was greatly distressed. Although he was in the king’s presence often, Nehemiah did not attempt to persuade the king or to use his position to influence the king until he had prayed. In our context, this would be similar to the White House Chief of Staff’s praying for several months about a crisis before going to the President with his request. Nehemiah knew that God was ultimately in charge. Nehemiah’s prayer and its results are an illustration of Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Nehemiah’s prayer in chapter one is similar to the PRAY (Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield) format for praying.

Nehemiah approached God in prayer by

  • Praising Him as the LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God.
  • Repenting by confessing his sins and the sins of the people.
  • Asking God to grant him compassion before the king.
  • Yielding himself to God by repeatedly calling himself God’s servant.

As New Testament believers, we can similarly pray by

  • Praising God for who He is and for what He has done for us in Christ Jesus.
  • Repenting by confessing our sins and thanking him for cleansing us.
  • Asking Him for our requests.
  • Yielding ourselves to Him and to His will for our lives.

What principles of prayer do you learn from the prayer in Nehemiah 1?

In order for us to take a principle (that we can apply today) from the prayer of Nehemiah, we look at two things. The first is repetition. Repetition of a word, phrase, or idea focuses our attention and emphasizes what is being repeated. In narrative literature, repetition is a key to understanding what the passage is saying. The second thing we examine is harmony or consistency with the rest of Scripture. For a principle to be valid, it must agree with the rest of the Bible. In fact, when we interpret a narrative passage, we should find that principle in other places in Scripture. I want us to look at Nehemiah’s prayer to see whether or not the PRAY principle meets these criteria.

Take each of the four parts of the PRAY format. Look for words or phrases in Nehemiah’s prayer that show his praising, repenting, asking, and yielding. Then find another verse in Scripture which encourages or commands us to pray, repent, ask, or yield. I will do the Praise section as an example. (It might be helpful to use a concordance to find the supporting verses or cross references).

PRAISE

Find examples (words or phrases) from the prayer in Nehemiah 1 that show Nehemiah’s praise to God.

v. 4 God of heaven

v. 5 LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God. who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments.

Find examples from the rest of Scripture encouraging or commanding us to praise God.

Psalm 103:1-2 (NASB)

1. Bless the LORD, O my soul,

And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

2. Bless the LORD, O my soul,

And forget none of His benefits;

Psalm 145 (NASB)

1. I will extol You, my God, O King,

And I will bless Your name forever and ever.

2. Every day I will bless You,

And I will praise Your name forever and ever

REPENT

Find examples (words or phrases) from Nehemiah’s prayer in Nehemiah 1 that show his confession of sin.

Find examples from the rest of Scripture that address confession of sin. (This is the hardest category in which to find specific verses. Try Psalm 51 or 1 John 1:9).

ASK

Find examples from Nehemiah’s prayer in chapter 1 that show his specific requests.

Find examples from the rest of Scripture that encourage us to ask God for our needs.

(Use your concordance and look at verses under the word “ask”.)

YIELD

Find examples (words or phrases) from Nehemiah’s prayer in Nehemiah 1 that show his humble spirit.

Find example from the rest of Scripture encouraging us to yield or submit to God. (Use your concordance to look up verses with the words “submit” or “humble”.)

Walk It Out in Life

I want us to practice writing out a prayer in the PRAY format. We will take each section separately and examine it.

PRAISE

In this study we have seen many names of God and descriptions of God. We have observed that God is the

  • God who remembers (Noah)
  • God who provides (Abraham)
  • God who takes what others meant for evil and uses it for good (Joseph)
  • I AM (Moses)
  • God under whose wings I can seek refuge (Ruth)
  • LORD who would do everything he had promised (Abigail)
  • God of lovingkindness and compassion, who blots out my transgressions, washes away my iniquity, and cleanses me from sin (David)
  • God who is able to deliver (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego)
  • LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God (Nehemiah)

Choose one of these names or descriptions of God and write several sentences praising God for who He is and thanking Him for what He does.

REPENT

1 John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Write out several sentences confessing (agreeing with God about) specific sins. Remind Him of 1 John 1:9 and thank Him for forgiving you.

ASK

Asking is the part of prayer with which we are most familiar. I grew up praying very general requests such as “Bless all the missionaries” or “Forgive me of all my sins”. Notice that Nehemiah was very specific as he prayed, “Make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man” (Neh 1:11 NASB).

Write several sentences expressing specific prayer requests to the Lord.

YIELD

Yielding is probably the hardest part of praying biblically. Our natural tendency is to want God to do things our way. My goals and desires have changed over the years, but even with a spiritual goal in mind, I may have already decided how God could accomplish it.

I think of yielding to God’s will as something similar to writing a blank check. I never liked to send a blank check to school with one of my children because I knew it might not reach its intended destination. When I yield my will to God’s, I imagine that I am giving Him a blank check. He is free to fill in the amount and I trust Him to do what is best for me. However, as I have read through Scripture, I have noticed that the saints had conversations with God. David, in particular, was very honest with God about how he felt. So I express what I want and “make my case” as I am praying. In my check analogy, I am writing my request on the memo line of the check. “Lord, you know my desire in this matter.” However, ultimately I have to leave the decision with God. I may grieve greatly (and I have) when God says no. I may not understand His decision. But in the final analysis, He is God. I have to acknowledge His sovereignty, His wisdom, and His great love.

Have you yielded yourself to God? Do you give each day to Him? Write several sentences expressing your heart’s desire to God. Ask Him to help you have the attitude that Nehemiah had of being God’s servant.

Walk It Out in Parenting

When our children were young, we established a bedtime ritual we called “Pillow Talk.” When everyone was ready for bed, we all went into one bedroom and sat on the beds. Each person could ask a Bible trivia question, name a chorus or song that we would all sing, or give a Bible reference and see if anyone could quote the verse. We did not do this every night, but it was a fun time. After going around with our questions and songs, we “prayed around” with each person praying a sentence prayer.

Are you teaching your children to pray? Do they see you praying about things that are important to you? I would suggest you pray out loud for your children from their earliest days. What could bless your children more than to hear their names spoken before the Father by their own mother?

Share with your small group any ideas you have about praying with your children and teaching them to pray,

Hold His Hand

To whom did Nehemiah pray? He addresses his prayer to the “LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God” (Neh 1:5). You will hear people say that all religions worship the same God, but they call Him by different names. I hope as we have walked through the Old Testament that you have seen that the God of the Bible is unique. He is the one true God and He has revealed Himself to us.

Nehemiah uses the title “God of heaven” four times in the first two chapters of the book. This title is found in the Old Testament mainly in the exilic and post-exilic books.15 Daniel prays to the God of heaven (Daniel 2:18-19). Jonah says he fears “the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land” (Jonah 1:9). Ezra uses this title repeatedly. Why is God called the God of heaven?

Not only did God create heaven but the Bible also says He is in heaven. Furthermore, God is ruling from heaven. Isaiah 66:1 says, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.’ ” The God of heaven is a sovereign God and the rulers on earth are under His power and authority. I like the way 2 Chronicles 20 expresses this same idea in the prayer of Jehoshaphat.

O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens?

And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations?

Power and might are in Your hand

so that no one can stand against You.

2 Chronicles 20:6 (NASB)

Isn’t that a powerful description of God? When everything in the world seems to be out of control, God is still on His throne. He is the ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in His hand.

Does your life seem out of control? Are you shaken by the events going on in the world? You can call on the God of heaven, the sovereign God of the universe, today. Write out a prayer thanking Him for being not only the God of heaven but also your God.


12 Derek Kidner, Ezra and Nehemiah: An Introduction and Commentar. (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979), 77.

13 Earl Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, H. Wayne House, eds. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 584.

14 Dorothy Kelley Patterson, ed. The Women’s Study Bible. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson , 1995), 756.

15 John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament. (Wheaton

 

Nehemiah – Walking in Prayer

Do you feel that your prayers are repetitious and not very effective? Is your prayer life up to the challenge of a crisis situation? This week we meet a man who responded to a crisis by calling on the God of heaven. Nehemiah prayed with confidence, humility, and power. Learn from Nehemiah and your prayer life may never be the same!

Step into the Story

It had been almost one hundred years since the first Jewish exiles returned to their homeland from Babylon. Although the Temple had been rebuilt, the walls were broken down, leaving the people without protection from their enemies. When Nehemiah heard the news, he responded with prayer and action.

Nehemiah’s Prayer
Read Nehemiah 1.

The book of Nehemiah begins between mid-November and mid-December in the twentieth year of the reign of King Artaxerxes (approximately 446 B.C.) in the city of Susa in Persia (modern day Iran). Chapter two takes places several months later in the spring of 445 B.C.12

1. What report did Nehemiah receive about Jerusalem? What was his response? (v.3-4)

In the ancient Middle East, a city wall provided protection for the inhabitants. The condition of the city wall was also seen as an indication of the strength of the people’s gods. The ruined condition of the wall of Jerusalem reflected badly on God’s name.13

2. As Nehemiah began his prayer, what words and phrases did he use to praise God? (v.5)

3. Whose sins did Nehemiah confess? Who were these sins against? What were the sins they had committed? (v.7)

4. On what basis did Nehemiah make His appeal in v.10? Did he mention what good people they had been?

5. What was Nehemiah’s request? (v.11) What position did Nehemiah hold in the royal court?

6. Have you ever suddenly found yourself in a crisis situation? What was your first response? Did you immediately pray to the God of heaven or did you take matters into your own hands to try to fix the situation? How could Nehemiah’s example help you in the future when you face overwhelming circumstances?

God’s Answer.
Nehemiah 2

1. When the king asked Nehemiah why he was sad, how did Nehemiah respond? (v.3)

2. After Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah what he was requesting, Nehemiah prayed again. What was Nehemiah’s request in verse 6?

3. According to verse 8, why did the king grant Nehemiah’s request?

4. Can you recall a time when you made a successful appeal to someone in authority over you? Did you give yourself credit for being persuasive or for making a good case for what you wanted? Did you see God at work in your situation?

Nehemiah was a man of prayer. Ten recorded prayers range from the quick “arrow prayer” (Neh. 2:4) to the Bible’s longest prayer (Neh. 9). The walk of faith is a balanced blend of prayer and action. Nehemiah prayed and then put his request before the king (Neh. 2:3,4); he prayed and then “set a watch” (Neh. 4:9). He exhorted the people to “remember the Lord …and fight” (Neh. 4:14).14

Journey through the Principle

As cupbearer, Nehemiah held an important position in the royal court. His responsibility and position of trust gave him unusual access to the king. After Nehemiah received the report about Jerusalem, he was greatly distressed. Although he was in the king’s presence often, Nehemiah did not attempt to persuade the king or to use his position to influence the king until he had prayed. In our context, this would be similar to the White House Chief of Staff’s praying for several months about a crisis before going to the President with his request. Nehemiah knew that God was ultimately in charge. Nehemiah’s prayer and its results are an illustration of Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Nehemiah’s prayer in chapter one is similar to the PRAY (Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield) format for praying.

Nehemiah approached God in prayer by

  • Praising Him as the LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God.
  • Repenting by confessing his sins and the sins of the people.
  • Asking God to grant him compassion before the king.
  • Yielding himself to God by repeatedly calling himself God’s servant.

As New Testament believers, we can similarly pray by

  • Praising God for who He is and for what He has done for us in Christ Jesus.
  • Repenting by confessing our sins and thanking him for cleansing us.
  • Asking Him for our requests.
  • Yielding ourselves to Him and to His will for our lives.

What principles of prayer do you learn from the prayer in Nehemiah 1?

In order for us to take a principle (that we can apply today) from the prayer of Nehemiah, we look at two things. The first is repetition. Repetition of a word, phrase, or idea focuses our attention and emphasizes what is being repeated. In narrative literature, repetition is a key to understanding what the passage is saying. The second thing we examine is harmony or consistency with the rest of Scripture. For a principle to be valid, it must agree with the rest of the Bible. In fact, when we interpret a narrative passage, we should find that principle in other places in Scripture. I want us to look at Nehemiah’s prayer to see whether or not the PRAY principle meets these criteria.

Take each of the four parts of the PRAY format. Look for words or phrases in Nehemiah’s prayer that show his praising, repenting, asking, and yielding. Then find another verse in Scripture which encourages or commands us to pray, repent, ask, or yield. I will do the Praise section as an example. (It might be helpful to use a concordance to find the supporting verses or cross references).

PRAISE

Find examples (words or phrases) from the prayer in Nehemiah 1 that show Nehemiah’s praise to God.

v. 4 God of heaven

v. 5 LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God. who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments.

Find examples from the rest of Scripture encouraging or commanding us to praise God.

Psalm 103:1-2 (NASB)

1. Bless the LORD, O my soul,

And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

2. Bless the LORD, O my soul,

And forget none of His benefits;

Psalm 145 (NASB)

1. I will extol You, my God, O King,

And I will bless Your name forever and ever.

2. Every day I will bless You,

And I will praise Your name forever and ever

REPENT

Find examples (words or phrases) from Nehemiah’s prayer in Nehemiah 1 that show his confession of sin.

Find examples from the rest of Scripture that address confession of sin. (This is the hardest category in which to find specific verses. Try Psalm 51 or 1 John 1:9).

ASK

Find examples from Nehemiah’s prayer in chapter 1 that show his specific requests.

Find examples from the rest of Scripture that encourage us to ask God for our needs.

(Use your concordance and look at verses under the word “ask”.)

YIELD

Find examples (words or phrases) from Nehemiah’s prayer in Nehemiah 1 that show his humble spirit.

Find example from the rest of Scripture encouraging us to yield or submit to God. (Use your concordance to look up verses with the words “submit” or “humble”.)

Walk It Out in Life

I want us to practice writing out a prayer in the PRAY format. We will take each section separately and examine it.

PRAISE

In this study we have seen many names of God and descriptions of God. We have observed that God is the

  • God who remembers (Noah)
  • God who provides (Abraham)
  • God who takes what others meant for evil and uses it for good (Joseph)
  • I AM (Moses)
  • God under whose wings I can seek refuge (Ruth)
  • LORD who would do everything he had promised (Abigail)
  • God of lovingkindness and compassion, who blots out my transgressions, washes away my iniquity, and cleanses me from sin (David)
  • God who is able to deliver (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego)
  • LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God (Nehemiah)

Choose one of these names or descriptions of God and write several sentences praising God for who He is and thanking Him for what He does.

REPENT

1 John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Write out several sentences confessing (agreeing with God about) specific sins. Remind Him of 1 John 1:9 and thank Him for forgiving you.

ASK

Asking is the part of prayer with which we are most familiar. I grew up praying very general requests such as “Bless all the missionaries” or “Forgive me of all my sins”. Notice that Nehemiah was very specific as he prayed, “Make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man” (Neh 1:11 NASB).

Write several sentences expressing specific prayer requests to the Lord.

YIELD

Yielding is probably the hardest part of praying biblically. Our natural tendency is to want God to do things our way. My goals and desires have changed over the years, but even with a spiritual goal in mind, I may have already decided how God could accomplish it.

I think of yielding to God’s will as something similar to writing a blank check. I never liked to send a blank check to school with one of my children because I knew it might not reach its intended destination. When I yield my will to God’s, I imagine that I am giving Him a blank check. He is free to fill in the amount and I trust Him to do what is best for me. However, as I have read through Scripture, I have noticed that the saints had conversations with God. David, in particular, was very honest with God about how he felt. So I express what I want and “make my case” as I am praying. In my check analogy, I am writing my request on the memo line of the check. “Lord, you know my desire in this matter.” However, ultimately I have to leave the decision with God. I may grieve greatly (and I have) when God says no. I may not understand His decision. But in the final analysis, He is God. I have to acknowledge His sovereignty, His wisdom, and His great love.

Have you yielded yourself to God? Do you give each day to Him? Write several sentences expressing your heart’s desire to God. Ask Him to help you have the attitude that Nehemiah had of being God’s servant.

Walk It Out in Parenting

When our children were young, we established a bedtime ritual we called “Pillow Talk.” When everyone was ready for bed, we all went into one bedroom and sat on the beds. Each person could ask a Bible trivia question, name a chorus or song that we would all sing, or give a Bible reference and see if anyone could quote the verse. We did not do this every night, but it was a fun time. After going around with our questions and songs, we “prayed around” with each person praying a sentence prayer.

Are you teaching your children to pray? Do they see you praying about things that are important to you? I would suggest you pray out loud for your children from their earliest days. What could bless your children more than to hear their names spoken before the Father by their own mother?

Share with your small group any ideas you have about praying with your children and teaching them to pray,

Hold His Hand

To whom did Nehemiah pray? He addresses his prayer to the “LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God” (Neh 1:5). You will hear people say that all religions worship the same God, but they call Him by different names. I hope as we have walked through the Old Testament that you have seen that the God of the Bible is unique. He is the one true God and He has revealed Himself to us.

Nehemiah uses the title “God of heaven” four times in the first two chapters of the book. This title is found in the Old Testament mainly in the exilic and post-exilic books.15 Daniel prays to the God of heaven (Daniel 2:18-19). Jonah says he fears “the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land” (Jonah 1:9). Ezra uses this title repeatedly. Why is God called the God of heaven?

Not only did God create heaven but the Bible also says He is in heaven. Furthermore, God is ruling from heaven. Isaiah 66:1 says, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.’ ” The God of heaven is a sovereign God and the rulers on earth are under His power and authority. I like the way 2 Chronicles 20 expresses this same idea in the prayer of Jehoshaphat.

O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens?

And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations?

Power and might are in Your hand

so that no one can stand against You.

2 Chronicles 20:6 (NASB)

Isn’t that a powerful description of God? When everything in the world seems to be out of control, God is still on His throne. He is the ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in His hand.

Does your life seem out of control? Are you shaken by the events going on in the world? You can call on the God of heaven, the sovereign God of the universe, today. Write out a prayer thanking Him for being not only the God of heaven but also your God.


12 Derek Kidner, Ezra and Nehemiah: An Introduction and Commentar. (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979), 77.

13 Earl Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, H. Wayne House, eds. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 584.

14 Dorothy Kelley Patterson, ed. The Women’s Study Bible. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson , 1995), 756.

15 John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 655.

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