Nehemiah’s model prayer offers several important lessons for believers today about how to practice the discipline of prayer.
1) Nehemiah’s first response was to turn to God in prayer. Prayer was not something that Nehemiah engaged in after he had exhausted all other alternatives. He did not approach it as a last ditch effort, with the attitude, What have I got to lose? Instead, his immediate, instinctive response to the news of trouble back home was to fast and pray (Nehemiah 1:4).
2) Nehemiah recognized and affirmed God’s sovereignty. He realized that the Lord had first and primary claim over all nations and people, whether they were Israelites or Persians. He saw himself and his people as being in the hands of God, dependent on His grace.
3) Nehemiah identified with his people. He used the pronoun “we” in his prayer. Rather than blame others, he accepted corporate responsibility for his people’s sin.
4) Nehemiah recognized the whole of God’s promises and commandments. In praying to God, it is easy to focus on what one wants from God, but ignore what God asks and expects from His people. Nehemiah knew what the Scriptures said about the Lord’s covenant with Israel, and he accepted the responsibilities of the covenant, not just the privileges.