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Prayer reveals our dependency on God.

Main Idea: Prayer Reveals our Dependency on God
I tend to notice that when my life is going really well, I find myself praying less.
As in when my life is up and too the right, I tend to not be dependent on God.
Or so I think.
I tend to just live life without going to God for anything.
Do I still pray?
I do, but my prays tend to be shallow.
I’m not asking God for anything, I’m thankful, but I’m not thanking God.
Because honestly I think that all the stuff that is going well is dependent on me.
Rather then it being dependent on God.
I go through the motions of prayer without really praying.
It is like I think that I am the cause of the blessing and all the great things in my life.
Now, I would never say that or think that, out loud.
Except for this moment when I am just trying to be real with you.
But what happens when the storms hit my life.
Well that is God’s fault— it’s clearly not mine.
I mean I am the one responsible for all the good in my life right.
So when things go south— guess what my prayer life picks up a lot.
I tend to find myself praying more.
I seek Him out.
And yeah— sometimes it is to yell and scream and other times it is with tears in my eyes, wondering God do you even love me?
So if I can be real with you and recount everything that I have said tonight: When things are going great— I tend to be only dependent on me— God has nothing to do with how great things are going.
Then life gets hard: It is God’s fault and now I have to be dependent on Him or else the hard time in my life will only get harder.
You see how that is messed up right.
Because I need to be dependent on God all day everyday.
And realize that God works all things out for His good and for His glory.
Do you find yourself here?
Because I think your prayer life and mine might look like this.
Or maybe you don’t even have a prayer life— as in you don’t know how to pray.
or maybe you are thinking, I pray no matter what and I understand that my prayer life reveals my dependence on God.
I love that!
I hope that you are encouraged today.
But if you find yourself going hmmm, when things are going well— I tend not to pray— or when things go badly that is when I pray.
Then I think we can learn something this evening.
My hope is that you have a life that is described by your prayer.
That you have a dependency on God that is a testament to your prayer life.
We are going to be in the book of Nehemiah tonight.
And you want to talk about a guy who had a good prayer life it was Nehemiah.
Nehemiah spoke to God often and when the news he gets rocks him to his core he goes to the Lord and seeks Him out.
The best part is God is was already working through the storm.
Let’s check this out.
Nehemiah’s story begins with Nehemiah’s prayer on behalf of his people, the Israelites.
The Israelites were in exile.
They had been for about 70 years.
They were not walking with God and now it cost them.
Most of the Israelites were in Babylon but some were still left over in Israel.
Nehemiah, whose name means God has comforted, was introduced as this mediator who represented God’s people before Him.
Nehemiah 1:1–4 ESV
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
So we have people returning back to their homes.
The remnant that returned to Jerusalem and Judea needed the comfort of God’s protection as they inhabited a city with broken down walls.
You can image how dangerous this would be.
I know we don’t have walls around the city of Galesburg, but in his time if your side was not surrounded by a wall— you were in trouble.
Armies could just roll in and wipe you out.
Nehemiah cried out to God, well aware of His promise to preserve His people (Ezra 1:1-11).
The people needed the protection of their faithful God because, as the passage tells us, they were in great trouble (1:4).
The desperate but trusting posture of prayer exemplified by Nehemiah in response to this situation is instructive.
When Nehemiah saw the plight of his people, he wept and mourned, fasting and praying to the sovereign God of heaven.
What can you learn from Nehemiah’s response to the news from the remnant in Jerusalem?
What I love about Nehemiah is that He went to the only one who could do anything about his situation.
Lots of times in our lives we go to lots of other things to help our situations rather then going to the only one who can fix our current state.
Nehemiah’s prayer indicated that He intimately knew the God of heaven, Yahweh.
This was a prayer to the one true God, the God of Israel.
Listen in on Nehemiah’s prayer.
Nehemiah 1:5–11 ESV
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, 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. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 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.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.
Take a look at the prayer of Nehemiah. What attributes of God did he appeal to? What characteristics did he use to describe the people?
Notice that when Nehemiah called out to the God of Israel, he also confessed Israel’s sin and recalled their commitment to obedience from the time of Moses.
Nehemiah confessed that he and the entire people of God had become corrupt and had failed to keep the commands given to Moses (1:6-7).
He recognized that their sin had resulted in their current situation (1:8).
Their disobedience had led to their exile in Babylon.
However, there was hope.
Nehemiah recalled that God would reestablish His people if they returned to Him.
Although their disobedience brought exile, their obedience would bring blessing (Lev. 26:3–13; Deut. 28:1–14).
Like Moses, Nehemiah appealed to God’s covenant that if Israel repented He would restore them to the land.
This story tells of the second exodus of God’s people.
In one sense, Israel returned to their land by the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 5:13).
However, we know that God providentially worked in Cyrus as an instrument to bring about His plans just as he did with Pharaoh in Egypt.
Just like in the first exodus, it was ultimately by the mighty hand of God that Israel was redeemed.
The similarities allowed Nehemiah to pray with confidence, looking back at the first exodus event in Egypt, and looking forward through the Babylonian exodus to find comfort in the covenant-keeping God who shows His steadfast love to His people.
As God heard Nehemiah’s prayer— God was already putting things into motion.
God does not sit on his hands waiting for you to ask for something.
God is already working and moving.
While we go to God in prayer, the last thing that we want to do is just say a prayer and then sit on our hands.
That doesn’t sound right either.
God may be using you to achieve his will meaning that you need to take action as well.
As in God is going to open doors but you have to be willing to walk through them.
This is what Nehemiah did.
Chapter 2 granted us access to the king’s table.
Nehemiah 2:1–8 ESV
In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.
As Nehemiah the cupbearer handed the king his wine, the king noticed something was off (1:11; 2:1).
This was the first time Nehemiah had been sad in the king’s presence, so the king discerned that something was wrong.
The king knew Nehemiah well enough to see that something was wrong with him.
And the King asked him.
Door opened up.
Because you may not have caught this but we are about 4 months removed from chapter 1.
Four months Nehemiah kept showing up for work and did his duty.
And now he was just brokenhearted about his home.
God’s land.
Nehemiah requested that the king send him home, to the city where his ancestors were buried, so that he could rebuild it.
He also asked the king for authoritative letters to show to the governor who had previously convinced Artaxerxes to stop the rebuilding of that very city (Ezra 4:7-9).
Even more, Nehemiah requested lumber from the king’s forests to fund the project.
These were massive requests, and astonishingly, the king granted Nehemiah his requests!
The King said you can go and here I’ll even supply the lumber.
If that is not God working then I don’t know what is.
God had been preparing for the rebuilding of His land all along.
Unlike the first exodus out of Egypt, when God’s people left Babylon, they did not have to plunder for precious metals and stones.
In that case, the king granted them access to all that they needed to accomplish this purpose.
As he did for Joseph, Daniel, and Esther, once again, God brought favor with kings.
Proverbs 21:1 reminds us that “The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”
And it is so here in Nehemiah 2, another example of the “God of heaven” providence directing events to bring about His sovereign purposes.
God is always working.
God never leaves you.
Nehemiah could have prayed to God and wanted God to move right away.
But God is smarter then you and I.
He waits for 4 month before he answers this prayer.
Your prayer life reveals your depedency on God.
If you don’t have a prayer life— you are not very dependent on God.
If it is so and so— you probably find yourself with a duel personality.
As in you have one foot in church but one foot in the world.
You think I can do all things through me that gives me strength.
And when things go bad that is when you go to God.
Sometimes you see prayer as a vending machine— which is probably why you only go to God when you need something.
But God is so more then that.
And this reveals how dependent you are on God.
If you are struggle to pray— maybe you don’t have a prayer problem maybe you have a view of God problem.
If you only see God as a fixer then when you don’t need to be fixed, as in life is good, you don’t go to God.
But if you have a correct view of an all powerful, perfect, matchless, loving, caring, and just God then you will go to God no matter the situation either with praise because He is the only one who can bring about good in your life or with a cry because he is the only one who can do anything about your current valley.
That is depedency on God.
If we all could grasp this, then we would have a right view of God’s goodness.
That God works all things together.
That it is all God, all the time.
He is the one who brings the blessings and he is the one who pulls us out of valleys.
It is all God.
And if we could just understand this, and come to terms with this then we would never cease praying.
Our prayer life shows how dependent we are on God.
If you don’t have a prayer life, talk to me or one of you leaders on how prayer is key to your relationship with God.
We would love to share with you what prayer life looks like!
Let’s pray
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