"THE TRUE MINISTER."
I. A TRUE BURDEN FOR THE PEOPLE.
A. He wept and mourned over the condition of the people.
1. When Nehemiah heard of the condition of those who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem, how they were discouraged and demoralized from the immensity of the task, he sat down and wept.
a. How long has it been since you have wept over the problems your sheep are experiencing?
b. Do we really take their problems to heart?
c. Do we agonize over them in prayer?
For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly for you.
d. Paul said that he had warned the Ephesian elders night and day with tears.
e. Does the burden ever get so great that it moves you to tears?
2. Nehemiah did more than cry about it, he prayed about it.
And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned [certain] days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.
3. He prayed over the conditions of the people.
a. The minister above all should be a man of prayer.
b. We are in an intense spiritual warfare, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of the strongholds of the enemy.
c. Prayer is the deciding factor in this spiritual battle, that is why Satan fights so hard to keep you from praying.
4. He also fasted.
a. Fasting is something that we find in both testaments. Paul said that he was in fastings oft.
b. What is fasting? It is denying the flesh to feed the spirit.
c. We usually are doing the opposite. We feed the flesh and deny the spirit. We eat our regular three-times-a-day meals, with a possible snack in between.
d. So often we go days without feeding the spirit.
e. No wonder we are so often spiritually defeated as we battle against the lusts of the flesh.
f. Fasting reverses the roll. We feed the spirit as we deny the flesh. The spirit thus becomes strong as my flesh becomes weaker.
g. The various types of fasts. Fast anything that feeds the flesh.
1. You can fast T.V.
2. You can fast certain foods. Daniel.
3. You can fast a meal, or for a day or for three days or for a week.
h. It is a deliberate and concerted effort to weaken my flesh while strengthening my spirit.
II. LET'S LOOK AT HIS PRAYER AS A MODEL FOR PRAYER.
A. The address. I am convinced that one of the most important parts of prayer is the address. Who are you addressing your prayer to?
1. Jehovah, God of heaven. He describes Him as:
a. The great and awesome God.
b. The God who keeps His covenant and mercy for them that love Him and observe His commandments.
2. He requests that His ears be attentive and His eyes opened to the prayers that His servant would offer day and night before Him.
a. The burden was something that was continually upon his heart.
b. There are issues that arise that are such a burden upon our hearts, that it seems that throughout the day and through the night we are offering up prayers for that particular situation.
3. This is followed by a confession of sin.
a. He was not trying to blame God for their problems, but accepted the full responsibility, realizing that this was the result of the sins of the people.
b. This is such a far cry from those who want to blame God for everything that goes wrong in their lives.
4. He then asks God to remember His promises.
a. God promised Moses that if the people would transgress His laws He would scatter them abroad among the nations.
b. But He also promised that if they would return to Him and keep His commandments He would gather them again from the uttermost parts of the heavens and bring them back to the place where He had chosen to set His name.
c. I often remind God of His promises in my prayers.
1. Jacob said in his prayer,
O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which said unto me, Return unto your country, and to your kindred, and I will deal well with you:
I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which you have shown unto your servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
Deliver me, I pray Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, [and] the mother with the children.
And You said, I will surely do you good, and make your seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
2. When I ask God to remember His promises I do not think that He has forgotten them. I do not think that it helps God to remind Him of His promises, but it sure helps me.
3. When praying for the sick I so often say, "Lord, you said that you were the Lord our God that heals us. Lord, you have promised that if two or three agree here on earth concerning any one thing that you will do it."
4. You said, "Call on Me in the day of trouble and I will hear you and show you great and mighty things."
5. I believe that it increases my faith, when I remember the promises.
5. He finally gets to his petition. "Oh Lord, I beseech Thee, or I beg You."
a. "Let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant."
b. And the prayers of Your servants who desire to fear Your name."
c. Prosper Your servants this day.
d. Grant me mercy in the sight of this man (The King).
6. Nehemiah adds a little informative note, he was the king's cupbearer.