January 13, 2023
Effective Praying Requires Praying For Specific Needs
Nehemiah - “The people You rescued by Your great power and strong hand are Your servants. O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring You. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” (Nehemiah 1:10-11)
If we’re going to pray effectively, it means we must pray specifically. If we only pray general prayers, we have no way of knowing if our prayers are being answered. Nehemiah’s prayer was specifically for the city of Jerusalem. He prayed for specific needs of specific people, both in Jerusalem and in Persia. He prayed for specific needs to be met that only the Persian king could grant. At the end of Nehemiah’s prayer, he prayed, "When I go before the king to ask to be released to go build the wall, give me success when I make that request to the king." (Nehemiah 1:11)
Let’s consider Nehemiah’s position. He was available. He was willing to go to Jerusalem. He was willing to lead the rebuilding effort. However, he knew he'd have to get the king's permission first. The king was definitely not a worshiper of the Lord. He wasn’t the type of leader to let his right hand man walk away to complete a project he had no interest in. The king had the power of life and death over all of his subjects. Nehemiah was asking for a leave of absence for three years to go back to his hometown and rebuild a wall the king had ordered not to be rebuilt. This was why he was praying for success when he went to talk with the king. He wasn’t hesitant to pray for success. He was extremely bold in his praying.
Have you ever prayed for success? If you haven't, why not? What is the alternative? Praying for failure? There is nothing wrong with praying for success if what you're doing is ultimately for God’s glory. So pray boldly for successful outcomes. That's what Nehemiah did. It was a valid prayer. Here’s the point: If you can't ask God to bless what you’re doing, then you'd better start doing something else. God doesn't want you to waste your life.
What do you think it was really like for Nehemiah as he was praying during those four months, while God was delaying His answer? His prayer times may have started off something like this: “God, you’ve got to do something about the situation in Jerusalem.” After Nehemiah prayed like this for a while, God may have replied to him and said, “If you’re so concerned, why don’t you get involved?” Sometime during those four months, perhaps a light came on in Nehemiah’s mind that said, “Maybe God could use me to rebuild the wall. I have the right connections. I’ll do it if that’s what He wants.” As Nehemiah continued to pray, a plan came together of how the project could be completed. Finally, at the end of four months, he was praying, “God, give me success.”
Jesus once said, “If you then being evil men know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give to those who ask Him?” (Matthew 7:11) If we’re going to pray impactful prayers, we need to pray specific prayers where we ask, and expect, success.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Think back over your prayers so far during this time of prayer and fasting. Have they been more general or more specific? How would you change your request to make them more specific? Once you’ve thought through this, pray over each request. If you’re leading your family through this time, talk about what success would look like for your family’s specific prayer requests. Then, pray over each request as a family.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, as we continue through this time of prayer and fasting, help us to pray specific prayers for specific needs. Help me to do that even today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.