"Oh Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this Your servant and to the prayer of Your servants who delight in revering Your Name. Give Your servant success today by granting him favor...." Nehemiah 1:11a (NIV)
The words from the heading of Beth Moore's devotional on April 17 (In Praying God's Word-Day*By*Day...fabulous book) said, "Without the Potter, clay is just dirt." Those words struck a chord with me...and have stuck with me. Oh, let me just say...from one who is purely dirt...that I am so thankful to have The Potter living in me!
God really "granted me some favor" this week as He heard and answered my feeble prayer for help! My class (of adorable kindergarteners) had gone outside to play. I glanced at my lesson plans to see what I needed to accomplish in the remainder of the day. I still had the Bible lesson to teach. That is one of my favorite things to do! Seeing those little 5 (& 6) year old faces respond to the truths in God's Word...eyes wide open...and sometimes their mouths...as they drink in every detail. (Oh, that we could be that way!) Most of the subjects that we focus on are stories that we tend to know by heart...Adam & Eve, Noah, Joseph, Moses, and so on. I have lots of picture books and other resources to share with the students.
However, as I saw in my plans that day, the lesson was on Nehemiah. I thought, "Hmmm, now what do I know about Nehemiah? There was that building the wall thing. Just what did happen to that wall anyway?" I went to my shelf of resources...nothing. I glanced back at my lesson plans. The only thing written there was, "Include Nehemiah's prayer." Okay, that was a start. I got my Bible and turned to the book of Nehemiah. Fortunately Nehemiah's prayer was right there at the beginning of the first chapter.
"O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love him and obey His commands, let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer Your servant is praying before You day and night for Your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against You. We have acted very wickedly toward You. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws You gave Your servant Moses."
"Remember the instruction You gave Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.'"
"They are Your servants and Your people, whom You redeemed by Your great strength and Your mighty hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this Your servant and to the prayer of Your servants who delight in revering Your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."
I quickly lifted my own version of that prayer up to the Lord. I asked Him to grant me favor...although I didn't deserve it...and help me to share the truths of His Word. Would you believe that He gave me a three point "sermon" and a great story at the end? (You must understand that my Daddy and my husband are among the greatest preachers out there!! I've had the privilege of "sitting under" the best teaching around!!!)
Here are His highlights!
1. Nehemiah started his prayer with the recognition of who God is..."great and awesome!"
2. Nehemiah confessed his sin...and that of the Israelites.
3. Nehemiah reminded God of His promises...His covenant of love with those who love Him and obey His commands. (Did God need the reminder? No, but we need to recount those promises for ourselves.) He asked God to grant him success on acting on behalf of those people and show him favor as he went to the king.
God just blessed me with His Word...and equipped me to share it with His children. Precious.
Oh! And for the great story at the end...it was fun to share about the Nehemiah's job...as "cupbearer" to the king...a yummy job...but one with huge risk!
As I was wrapping up, I glanced to the end of chapter 2 and saw the words, "The God of heaven will give us success." (v. 20) I breathed a prayer of thanks...for His faithfulness. He took this "dirt" and shaped a lesson for little hearts (and that includes my own).
Father, You are truly "great and awesome"...and so gracious and merciful! Lord, forgive us for forgetting just how faithful You are. Forgive me for the depths of my sin. And, Lord, thank You for washing it away...and keeping Your covenant of love. Thank you for Your Spirit that indwells us and equips us to be the vessels You intended. Please continue to show us Your favor as we seek to do Your will.