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In Jesus Name, Amen

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 23, 2024 12:00 am

In Jesus Name, Amen

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 23, 2024 12:00 am

What kind of prayers does God listen to? How do you gain God's maximum attention? Nehemiah shows us.

For more life-changing Bible teachings from Stephen Davey, visit wisdomonline.org.

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Learn how to pray like this man prayed. You start with the sovereign majesty of God and somewhere in that prayer you lay open your heart before God and ask him to break your own heart over your own sin. And then you lean heavily and entirely upon the revealed Word of God through Scripture. Somewhere in there you let God know, whatever you want me to do, I will do. I haven't come to tell you what to do.

I've come so you can tell me what to do. I have a question for you to reflect on today. How's your prayer life?

Do you feel like you're being heard? Is your prayer life vibrant, fresh and authentic? For some Christians that's an easy question because they rarely even pray at all.

For other Christians it's a hard question because the reality is, no matter how good your prayer life is, you wish it was better and you wish you prayed more. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen takes us back to the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah's prayer is recorded there and Stephen called this message in Jesus name.

Amen. There was once a man who prayed to the God of heaven on behalf of his divided hurting nation. It is recorded for us in Nehemiah chapter one and we have been studying through his prayer and if you were to read his prayer at conversational speed you could pray it in less than two minutes. Yet in just two minutes Nehemiah would gain the maximum attention of God.

How? What is the prayer that God listens to and how do you gain the attention of God? We have already discovered in our study that his prayer grasped the greatness of God and any prayer that grasps the greatness of God grasps the attention of God. We have looked at his prayer as if it were four steps along the path of prayer and the first of those steps involved the clear priority of God's sovereignty.

Nehemiah prayed in verse five of chapter one, I beg thee, I plead with thee, I beseech thee, oh Lord God of heaven the great and awesome God. That is you reign over all there is. You are ruler, you are majestic, you are sovereign and any prayer that places him on that throne and us at his feet is prayer that gains his ear. You reign over all there is.

There is boldness in coming here and in your prayers but there is also a mixture, isn't there, of fear and awe? There should be. I can still remember my fifth grade teacher asking me to stay after school. I had been asked that before and always accepted the invitation. Detention could involve a number of things. I remember this particular time I was relegated to washing the windows of the school building. I don't remember what I did but I guarantee you didn't deserve that kind of punishment but at any rate I can still remember being up there and I thought it very convenient that on the afternoon I was to stay after school my team was practicing soccer so my parents would never know. They didn't need to be troubled by that and so it was going to work out just well but I can still remember being on the ladder washing one of the windows, glancing over my shoulder and seeing the family car pull in the parking lot. My father had gotten off early to come and watch me practice. What a dad.

Come to spend time with his son. We did spend time together. But this was different. This was fifth grade. I had been invited, the teacher told me to talk with him about something of significance related to the fifth grade and he wanted to talk it over with me. I can still remember that. We all looked up to this man, his fifth grade boys.

He was tall and strong and he had a deep voice and I can still remember he always smelled like coffee and I can remember going into his office and sitting on that chair and talking to him of these, I can't remember what the issue was but the appointment with him was the thing and I can remember it like it was yesterday even though it was only about 12 or 13 years ago now. You pray like that? You go to God with boldness because you have been invited. Come. And yet you go with a sense of knowing you're meeting with the great authority that is above all other authority and you tend to say yes sir a lot.

Not let me tell you some things, but yes sir. Oh thou great God of heaven, great and awesome that you are. True praying places God on his throne and us at his feet. Listen, just as I read from Psalm 145, David says, I will extol you my God, okay?

Extol is the Hebrew verb ruam which means the place high to lift high to raise up. I will extol you. I will bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and I will praise your name. Great is the Lord and highly to be praised and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts on the glorious splendor of your majesty and on your wonderful works I will meditate.

Men shall speak of the power of your awesome acts and I will tell of your greatness. They shall eagerly utter the memory of your abundant goodness and will shout joyfully of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and great and loving kindness. The Lord is good to all and his mercies are over all his works. All your works shall give thanks to you oh Lord and your godly one shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and talk of your power to make known to the sons of men your mighty acts and the glory of the majesty of your kingdom.

This man knew how to talk to God. You see that prayer like Nehemiah's prayer does not begin with a believer going into the presence of God and saying here I am but oh there you are how great and awesome God that gains the attention of our Lord. Prayer is not the communication that of our will to God but the surrender of our will to God. It is not us having our way as we've said with him.

It's this God having his way with us. One author wonderfully illustrated the alignment of our will to God's sovereign will through prayer by asking this question. If I throw out a line from my boat with a hook on it and I catch hold of the shore and I pull do I pull the shore to me or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to me. Prayer is in effect pulling my boat up alongside of God. Therefore brethren since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus Christ let us then with full assurance of faith draw near.

We're pulling our little boat up next to an incredibly awesome and powerful and sovereign God. When our Lord taught his disciples how to pray he said whenever you pray in my name that is in the name of Jesus ask what you will and it will be done to you. John 14 13. Most of you like me I imagine as we teach our children to pray we teach ours to end by saying something like in Jesus name amen and that's a biblical way in fact it follows what Jesus Christ exhorted them to do in John 14 13. Whatever you ask in my name that is in Jesus name that is how you ask that's how you approach the father but you remember now that to pray in Jesus name means then that when you finish praying you should have prayed something that Jesus could sign his name to.

That's what you are in effect doing. I've just prayed this prayer and I can sign as it were Jesus Christ to it. He would have prayed it. Jesus taught them that they were to pray in a way that when they finished it was something he himself would not hesitate to lend his name to. Everybody likes John 14 13 A not so many like John 14 13 B the latter part of the verse. Whatever you ask in my name that will I do period no comma so that the father may be glorified in the son.

In other words the kind of praying that Jesus Christ will sign his name to is the prayer that recognizes the glory and sovereignty and majesty and will and design of this awesome father God. So we learn how to pray because that has a way of shaping the way you pray doesn't it? I can remember all four of our children when they were young very little learning how to color. Of course the first step was to keep them from eating the crowns once they got past that stage then we introduced them to coloring books. They had two problems. One was choosing the appropriate color that was realistic and of course you know the pictures the grass is brown and the sun is pink and our hair is red and our lips are blue and then all of that. And then the second problem is staying in the lines. They just sort of put the color on there and they just go back and forth and all the colors and they show it to you and you say oh my isn't that stunning or something like that. And they say you like it so much let's put it on the refrigerator door.

So oh my we put on the refrigerator door. Well when we pray we must learn to choose the appropriate words and to color them correctly and then we learn to stay within the lines. And staying within the lines means that we have this perspective of sovereignty. That he is God and we are servant. He is not our servant and we are not Lord.

You tend to say yes sir an awful lot. Then we observe Nehemiah's prayer involved and acknowledgement of sin. He prayed in the last part of verse six I and my father's house have what? Have sinned. The prayer God listens to is a prayer that not only confesses his sovereignty but confesses our sin.

By the way if you don't acknowledge your sin before the father you're talking to the heir. God has turned a deaf ear to you. In fact I was thinking about this this past week and I want to give you two categories of people whose prayers are not acknowledged by God. Number one first of all the prayers of unbelievers are not heard.

Obviously God hears everything but he doesn't pay attention or acknowledge their prayers. Psalm 34 15 David wrote the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears are open to their cry. The righteous cry and the Lord hears. The word righteous there has to do with one's right standing before God not perfection in life fortunately. We have the righteousness of Christ imputed to our filthy accounts so that we have right standing before God in Christ first Corinthians 1 30. Part of the deception of the heart and part of the deception of this world system by the God of this world is that somehow people can pray to God and at the same time refuse to believe the truth of the gospel.

They're all around you in your neighborhood and at work you just ask them. In fact different polls that I have read show that almost twice as many people believe that in praying to God than believe the gospel of Christ. Ask them do you pray? Oh yeah I pray all the time. God answers my prayers too. What do you believe in Christ?

Oh now wait a second let's not get fanatical. That's part of the deceived human race. John 9 31 says we know that God does not hear sinners but if anyone trusts God and does his will he hears him. The second category of disqualified people are not only unbelievers but disobedient believers. David said if I regard iniquity in my heart he will not hear my prayer. Now wait a second does that mean we go to God only when there isn't any sin in our heart? Well if that's the case none of us would ever pray.

The word regard means to cherish and to defend. If I go to God and I'm trying to communicate with him and at the same time I have cherished sin in my heart and I'm going to defend it and God should bring it up well I'm going to defend that. Pray all you want but he's not listening. He's waiting instead for you to say oh God I acknowledge my sin as David said and I will not hide my iniquity from thee. Psalm 32 5. So you open your heart to him. Peter even became more specific for the New Testament believer when he wrote these startling words men live with your wives with understanding lest your prayers be hindered.

That's interesting. For married men then your relationship with your wife is either an obstacle or an aid to your personal prayer life. In other words to become even more specific if you're a married man one of the best ways to get God's attention is to give your wife yours and all the women said amen brother Stephen. Preach it.

Go over time. You men are thinking Stephen you don't know my wife at times is beyond understanding and all the men better not say anything right at that point. Interesting isn't it that your fellowship on earth affects your fellowship with heaven. Nehemiah said here in his prayer that gained God's maximum attention I and my father's house have sinned. Verse 7 we have acted corruptly against thee. Prayer that gains the attention and ear of a sovereign God is one that places the priority of that prayer upon his sovereignty and then acknowledges sin. Let's move to the third prayer that God listens to is prayer that is confident trust.

Prayer that has a confident trust in scripture. Did you know that the Bible is not so much a book of answers as it is a book of promises? And as Nehemiah prays here in chapter 1 of his memoirs he repeats from memory at least 10 different Old Testament passages. 10 different promises of God to his people through Moses in the Torah or the law.

Let me just show you a few references we don't have time for all of them. Back in verse 5 Nehemiah refers his prayer to Yahweh translated in your text Lord capitals L-O-R-D. That is his covenant keeping name. That name was first introduced by God to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3 where God came to Moses and he said listen I'm going to use you to lead the Israelites out of Egypt where they are enslaved to a land, he tells Moses, that is flowing with milk and honey. Go tell them that. You know Moses' response was sort of like I don't know who should I tell them I've been talking to?

What's your name? They'll want to know which God came up with this one. And he said you tell them that I am hiya, the verb to be.

Tell them I am that I am. And from that verb we have the derivative Yahweh. And so this name that was first introduced is a name that identifies God as a promise keeping God. So at the very outset of Nehemiah's prayer here he is saying in effect Lord I'm praying, I'm yielding this prayer to a God who keeps his promises. Now not so subtle does he say furthermore in that verse who preserves the covenant.

He just puts it out there. You keep your promises and loving kindness of those who love him and keep his commandments. That by the way was a paraphrase or a quotation from Exodus chapter 20 verse 6 where God said to Moses I am a God who shows loving kindness to thousands to those who love me and keep my commandments. So Nehemiah here is claiming the promise of God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Look down at verse 8 where Nehemiah says remember the word which thou didst command thy servant Moses. Then he goes on to quote Leviticus chapter 26 verse 33. If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples. That's half of the promise. Then he quotes in Nehemiah 1 9 from Deuteronomy chapter 30 verses 2 and 4.

Here's the other half. But if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens I will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause my name to dwell. In other words Nehemiah is saying listen covenant keeping God you promised if we were unfaithful you'd scatter us and that has happened.

And here we are in Persia reaping the consequences of our disobedience. But oh God would you please keep the other half of your promise that if we return to you you will restore us to the place where you've chosen for your name to dwell which is Jerusalem. And that by the way is a quote from Deuteronomy chapter 12 verse 5. Another in verse 10 of Nehemiah 1 Nehemiah simply parrots back to God a paraphrase of Exodus 32 verse 11 where Moses interceded on behalf of rebellious Israelites. He says they are as Nehemiah here does they are thy servants and thy people whom thou didst redeem by thy great power and by thy strong hand. The majority of Nehemiah's prayer ladies and gentlemen is the reciting and paraphrasing of scripture. To coin a phrase of Spurgeon's a hundred plus years ago the prayer of Nehemiah was bibbling with the promises of God. He had a grasp of the word and the word had a grasp of him.

He had sifted through the word the law and now you see the law sifting through him. I wonder if you were removed from our praying the quotations of scriptural promises how much praying we would do. How important are his promises to you?

All important aren't they? You believe in heaven? How do you know of such a place? How can you have confidence of ever gaining that eternal haven? Because Titus 1 2 said that God who cannot lie has promised you eternal life. He believed that you have everything you need from him that pertains to life and godliness.

How do you know that? By his magnificent promises 1 Peter 1 4. And don't ever forget that the very reason that you can even pray is because the Bible promised you can in Hebrews 10. Could it be that we do not know what to say to God because we don't know enough about what God has already said to us? And our prayers lack words to him because we do not sift through his words to us.

Could it be that we we live fearful anxious lives because we have forgotten the promises or we do not know the promises or the promises of God do not sift through our thinking and through our hearts and out into our lives. One promised that Christ intercedes for us. Imagine how wonderful it is for somebody to tell you hey by the way I'm going to be praying for you today.

Wow. And that is wonderful. For the word tells us that Jesus Christ intercedes for us daily. Robert Murray McShane the missionary who died over a hundred years ago as a young man thirties said this if I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room I would not fear a million enemies yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me even now. Nehemiah knew what to say because he knew what the word said.

And he had confident trust in the word. Finally the prayer that gains the maximum attention of God is of course the priority of God's sovereignty and the acknowledgement of sin and trust in the scriptures. And finally it is humility and supplication. Verse 11 oh Lord I beseech thee may thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant and the prayer of thy servants who delight to revere thy name.

Here it is. Make thy servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man. Isn't it fascinating that the last thing Nehemiah prayed was his request. Chapter two will give us the details of what Nehemiah has in mind but did you notice here that Nehemiah grants his request now to God and he inserts him in as part of the answer.

Have you discovered in your Christian life the wonderful experience of not just receiving an answer from God but being the answer of God. Number of years ago a young man from Korea who was a believer came to the states to study in a Christian college. He graduated and then went on to the University of Pennsylvania to work on his master's degree.

A clear testimony of faith in Christ. He went out one night to the post office and he was mugged and beaten so badly that he died. The Philadelphia police caught these young teenagers who had accosted this student and killed him and they were brought in before the trial that gained national attention. His mom and dad from Korea flew over to be at the trial.

They also believed in Christ, had a clear testimony. He didn't understand the American system of jurisprudence but when these men were found guilty of murder before the judge pronounced his sentence these two people, mom and dad, asked if they could speak to the judge. They were granted an audience and there in that packed courtroom mom and dad got down on their knees in front of the judge's bench and with great humility asked the judge if they could have these young men. Would you give them to us? We'll take them back with us and we will show them the love of a mother and a father and we will show them the love of Jesus Christ which they need.

Would you give them to us? Of course the judge didn't have the power to do anything like that so he denied the request of course but for a moment to a watching broken world they saw a flash of Christian testimony where two people said we will become the answer for the cause of God. You want God's attention? You want the maximum attention of God to restore a broken down world? Learn how to pray like this man prayed. You start with the sovereign majesty of God and somewhere in that prayer you lay open your heart before God and ask him to break your own heart over your own sin. Then you lean heavily and entirely upon the revealed word of God through scripture. Somewhere in there you let God know whatever you want me to do I will do. I haven't come to tell you what to do. I've come so you can tell me what to do. Prayers like that do not have to be two hours long.

They can be two minutes. And when you pray like this man prayed you can with confidence end your prayer with those wonderful words. In Jesus' name. Thank you Stephen.

Friends, isn't that a great reminder today? Most Christians want to have a healthy and vibrant prayer life. We want to be able to honestly pray in Jesus' name.

And we can do this if we follow the example of Nehemiah. We acknowledge the sovereign majesty of God. Admit and confess our own sinfulness. Trust the promises of God's word. And approach God and all of life with humility. Let's find some time to pray today and put into practice what we've learned. If you joined us late you've been listening to wisdom for the heart with Stephen Davey. Today's lesson is called in Jesus' name.

Amen. And it's part four in our current series through the book of Nehemiah. If you missed part of this lesson and want to go back and listen again we have an easy way for you to do that. We have each of these lessons available on our website. You can listen to them free of charge.

You can also read the written transcript if you prefer that. When you go online you'll find us at wisdomonline.org. Again that's wisdomonline.org. As you put this message into practice and work on your prayer life please consider praying for us. We desperately need it. We have a resource where we help people pray for us more effectively. Our ministry is making this Bible content available worldwide in nine languages.

In fact our resources are currently being accessed in 150 countries. Each week we take time to pray for one of those countries. Would you please join us? We produce a guide to help our prayer team pray more effectively. If you'd like to join our global prayer team and pray for our ministry you'll find information at wisdomonline.org forward slash prayer. Now I also want you to know that we'd be honored to pray for you. If you have a need and would like us to join you in prayer we'd be happy to do that.

We have a form on that page where you can submit your request. Our prayer team will pray for you by name. If you're interested and if you want to provide your phone number someone will call you and pray with you over the phone. Once again visit wisdomonline.org forward slash prayer and either join our global prayer team or send us your prayer request. We'd be glad to hear from you. That's all for today. Please join us again next time as we continue through the book of Nehemiah on Wisdom for the Heart. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-23 01:04:37 / 2024-05-23 01:14:26 / 10

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