In my quiet time with my God this morning as I was praying that God would line my thoughts up with His thoughts and my ways up with His ways and my will up with His will, the Lord took me to the book of Nehemiah. The verse that first jumped out at me was this,
“Then the king said to me, “What would you request?”
So I prayed to the God of heaven.”
Did you see it?
Did you see that before Nehemiah answered the question, he prayed to God.
Nehemiah wanted to make sure his answer was in God’s will.
As I read this verse I felt as though my Savior whispered in my heart, Nicole, this is how I want you to live. When someone asks what do you want, what would you like, don’t answer from you, look to Me. Let Me guide you in your answer. Make sure that the answer to the question does not take you from My purpose and from My protection.
After I read this verse and heard the still whisper of my God I went back and put this verse in it’s context. At this time Nehemiah is the king’s cupbearer and the king has just called him out because he is obviously upset, and he is not supposed to be upset around the king. The kings question could have meant Nehemiah’s very life. So Nehemiah wanted to be sure that God was with him as he answered the king.
How many times does the answer to a question mean life or death to us?
I believe more than we like to admit or even realize.
As a young girl, when asked, “Do you want to go out?” Had I took the moment to pray to God before I answered… well… yeh… how I wish I had sought God’s guidance in my answer.
I have spent my entire Christian walk learning how to pray. “God, teach me to pray” is a regular prayer of mine and God has been faithful to teach me. He continues to teach me as He opens up His word to me and reveals Himself to me more and more as I seek Him.
One of the lessons that I have learned concerning prayer is that God simply is not going to listen if we are living in sin and rebellion against Him. The first thing we must do is align ourselves with God. We must first confess our sins.
Have you ever considered how many of your prayer request are actually a direct result of not seeking God first? How many of those cries out to God come from the consequences of our sinful choices?
So repentance, humility, must come first.
If you feel like God never answers you when you pray… Have you chosen to align yourself back up with God. Are you living in rebellion against Him, putting your own wants and desires and pleasures before your love and service to Him?
“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short
That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you
so that He does not hear.”
The first thing that Nehemiah asked from God was for Him to hear his confession, not for just his own sins, but Nehemiah interceded on behalf of the entire nation (Nehemiah 1:4-7).
After the confession, Nehemiah goes to God’s Word, to the promises He had made His covenant people.
“Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses…”
I have learned that for my prayers to be in His will, they must be in accordance with His Word. If I do not know God’s Word then I do not really know how to pray and if I do not know God’s Word, then I am never going to know if He answered me.
He will answer me according to His Word. He will speak to me through His Scriptures. I will pray and the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance the Word of God that answers me, the promises of God in His Word that strengthens me. Then I simply must wait for God to accomplish His purpose and I must trust Him with the results. Knowing that He heard me and believing that He has it all under control.
If you feel like God never answers you when you pray… When was the last time you studied His Word.
Praying without studying the Scriptures, without seeking God in His word, and getting upset because you don’t think He’s listening, is like getting mad at someone for not calling you back and then looking down to realize that your phone has been turned off.
And even if I feel I have been answered, if I have not put His Word in my heart, then how do I know that the voice that I heard, the unction that I received, was from God?
I don’t and I can’t.
It could have been the enemy of my soul… yes He knows how to talk “God talk”.
Or it could have been my own desire speaking.
God speaks to us in and through His word. Knowing His word is vital to us knowing God and hearing His voice and recognizing His will in our lives.
There have been times in my life that I have felt like God was not hearing me, but in reality I felt that way simply because He wasn’t doing what I thought He should be doing. My prayer had nothing to do with me seeking His will, His ways, His thoughts. It simply was “God this is what I want and this is how I think you should do it. K. Thanks.”
I am learning that when in my prayer God has not given me a new direction, then His answer is sometimes simply to surrender to where I am and trust him here. A lot of times my prayer for a new direction is simply my attempt of running away from what ever situation I am currently in and wanting to put a God stamp of approval on it and be able to say… “Well the Lord just called/led me to blah, blah, blah”
I am also learning that I should never go into prayer with preconceived notions. Prayer is not for me to stand up and tell God what He is going to do and claim that I am “prophesying”. All I can do is humbly go before God, recall His Word, and ask Him to act upon His own promises according to our covenant. And if I have not kept my end of the covenant how dare I demand God to hear me. I need to be on my face before Him begging Him to forgive me, not obey me.
I think some of us have gotten just a little to big for our britches, as we march around and proclaim what’s going to happen in the name of Jesus, when we haven’t even asked God what His purpose is in the situation. I have never read of any of the disciples, nor of Christ Himself, speaking as audaciously as I have heard so many do here in our day. Speaking at God as though He should do as they say according to their will and their understanding…
It’s quite scary to me to hear the “prayer talk” of some… demanding things in the name of Jesus, then when their demands are not met, what have they left those around them with… those who heard this? They have left them empty, without peace, without hope… making a mockery of the beautiful name of our Savior by using it in vain.
Not my will, but Your will be done… this is how our Lord taught us to pray and this is how we should pray. In humility and in complete surrender to the sovereign purpose of our Creator God.