Prayer Note #40 — On Dangerous, Desperate Prayers — Nehemiah 1:1-2:9

On Dangerous, Desperate Prayers

Nehemiah 1:1-2:9

 Nehemiah presents us with a picture of a practical, detail-oriented, can-do sort of man who is also a man of deep, dangerous, desperate prayer.  For some reason, we can sometimes think that the practical and the prayerful can’t function in the same heart.  Nehemiah demonstrates that that kind of thinking is wrong.  Take some time to prayerfully ponder this paradoxical man and his God.

Where does this story take place?  When?  What position does Nehemiah occupy?

An Abandoned Wall; photo by GAC


What happens to precipitate the events of the story?  What prompts Nehemiah to action?


What is Nehemiah’s first action after hearing the news from Jerusalem?


Describe the contents of the prayer that Nehemiah prayed?


What is his attitude toward God?  What was he mourning and fasting for?  How do you suppose that affect his prayer?


What does he want God to do for him?


In 1:4 Nehemiah says that he prayed and fasted for “some days.”  The months of Kislev (1:1) and Nisan (2:1) are four months apart.  Why did Nehemiah wait so long?  What do you suppose were Nehemiah’s prayers like over that time?


Nehemiah says that he was “very much afraid” in 2:2.  Do you know why?


Nehemiah mentions a prayer in 2:4.  What do you suppose that prayer was like?


We see here examples both of long concentrated prayer and brief on-the-run prayer.  What different roles do you see those two types of prayer playing in Nehemiah’s situation?  In your situation?


How did God use Nehemiah’s prayers?  Did Nehemiah recognize that?  How might the situation have been different if Nehemiah had not prayer in the way he did?


How did Nehemiah integrate prayer and action in his life?  How might you imitate Nehemiah in integrating prayer and action into your life?

©2012 Gary A. Chorpenning; all rights reserved.


3 thoughts on “Prayer Note #40 — On Dangerous, Desperate Prayers — Nehemiah 1:1-2:9

  1. I think that maybe the times of extended prayer gave Nehemiah a chance to get rid of any anger he may have had and reflect on the character of God and His promises. This probably built up his trust in God’s faithfulness, so when it was time to act he was able to with the confidence that God would provide for him and others who served God. Am I on the right track? This all makes me realize how important quality time with God is. I’ve never been on one of those silent retreats. Something like that would be good. What do you mean when you say “dangerous” prayer?


    1. Yes, Heather, I think you are on the right track. And when I say “dangerous” prayer, I’m referring to the fact that when we ask God to act in some situation, sometimes part of his answer to us is to call us to be his agents. In other words, he sometimes chooses to channel his actions through us, through our obedience. And sometimes that can be dangerous for us. It was for Nehemiah. Notice how anxious he was about going to the king. Ancient Persian kings were not teddy bears, more like grizzly bears. Approaching them with requests involved one in risk. Nehemiah knew that very well.


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