After turning from his sin (1:4) and focusing on the character of God (1:5), Nehemiah begs God for His presence and help in a time of need. It’s clear from the words of 1:6 that he was dependent only on God for help.
Crisis situations or “breaking points” like Nehemiah experienced are used by God to draw into a special kind of prayer…desperate prayer
The thing is, our prayer life usually wouldn’t be defined by the word “desperate”
- We almost never set aside a time specifically for it
- When we do, it’s incredibly random because we don’t have a purpose or plan in our prayer
- We find ourselves very easily distracted
- And five minutes can seem like an hour
Desperate prayer on the other hand is characterized by an intense focus on God, and an unwillingness to quit praying before an answer comes
The source of this desperation is our inability to fix a problem on our own. Sadly, it’s only we have been broken by God (all our strength taken away) that we turn to prayer. But the prayer of someone who has been broken by God brings great glory to Him.
“How is God glorified by desperate prayer?” you might ask
As noted above, there are two big ways.
Desperate Prayer Focuses on God
This is a different kind of focus that we see in 1:5 where Nehemiah thought about the characteristics of God. We see in this verse a “begging” of God for His power and presence in the life of Nehemiah.
Specifically he begs God to have open eyes. This may seem strange because God obviously sees and knows everything that goes on in the world, nothing surprises Him. What Nehemiah refers to here is the blessing and help of God. He’s begging God to give strength and help in a time of need. Secondly Nehemiah asks God to have an open ear. This refers to Gods heeding his prayer, or responding to his cries for help.
Through this desperate begging we hear Nehemiah clearly say, “Lord I need you!”
And this is the heart of desperate prayer
Passive prayer says “Lord it would be great if you can help me, but if not I can take care of things myself.” We may not actually say that, but our actions do. How many times do we pray once or twice about something, and then try to fix it ourselves? Desperate prayer knows that apart from God there is no hope.
which leads to our second point
Desperate Prayer is Unwilling to Quit Praying before the Answer Comes
The words “day and night” mean the prayer of Nehemiah was constant. Now he wasn’t able to literally pray twenty-four hours a day, but the need of Jerusalem was constantly on his mind. And Nehemiah was committed to praying until God answered.
often the crisis situations of life are used by God to “test us” and see how long we will wait. Desperate prayer knows that there could be quicker fixes to the problems of life. But apart from Gods help, we have no hope.
Few things bring God greater Glory than a child who will cling to Him in prayer like Ruth did to Naomi. Who like Jacob will “not let go until you bless me.”
This prayer may take a long time to answer, but it’s definitely worth the wait.
I can remember being in a very bad traffic accident (my only one) after College. Standing on the side of the road looking at two totaled vehicles, I said with my lips what my heart was crying out. “Lord I can’t fix this.”
Out of all the prayers that God hears, I believe one of the most precious cries out “Lord I can’t fix this!” And refuses to quit until He does