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Today I hear many times people begin to address their prayers “Oh Eternal One, the great power of the universe” rather ambiguous. It doesn’t speak much of relationship. Jesus said, “when ye pray say, Our Father which art in heaven”(Matthew 6:9). It’s warm, it’s personal, it’s close. In the new testament, the fourth chapter of the book of Acts, when the apostles had been threatened not to speak anymore in the name of Jesus. When they came back to the other company of disciples, they shared with them the things that they had experienced; the persecution and threat. And so they began to pray and their prayer they addressed “Oh God, the creator of heaven and earth and everything that is in them”(Acts 4:24). Acknowledging the one I am talking to. I’m calling upon God, the creator of the universe, the one who has created every life form within the universe. And when I really begin to think about God as I am praying, when I think of the greatness of God, when I think of the power of God, the creating of the universe when I think of the wisdom of God, the creating of the life forms; suddenly as I am focusing upon God the one that I am addressing, suddenly my whole problem begins to come in perspective. So many times when I begin to pray I am pushed by my problems, by my difficulties and I am overwhelmed by the greatness of the problem that I face and I’m almost to the place of just hopelessness. This is so great, this is so big and I’m just overwhelmed by my difficulty, but as I begin to address my prayer, “Oh Lord, thou art God. You have created the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them”, suddenly my problems begin to just melt down and they’re nothing now because I see them in the light of God and in the light of his greatness and in the light of his power.

So here’s Nehemiah, it seems like it’s hopeless. The people have been back in the land now for many many years. But things are not going well. The people are discouraged, they’re in great affliction. The wall of Jerusalem is still a rubble and they are being harassed by the people roundabout and that’s so far away and seems like such an awesome thing to even hope Jerusalem would ever become a city of glory and beauty and power again.

Struck by the news, Nehemiah prays but as he prays, as he begins to talk to God the whole thing begins to come into perspective. “I beseech thee O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God. that keepeth his covenant and mercy for him that love them and observe his commandments:” (1:5). You’re the God that keeps his promises. For those that love you that obey you, you keep your promises to them. And that’s good to remind yourself when you pray. I’m praying to the God who keeps his word and so we come to God in prayer on the basis of the promises that God has given to us. And I find it very helpful in my own prayer, as I begin to pray my prayers to just sort of quote some of the promises of God. Not that he needs to be reminded of them; it helps me. He knows that he’s promised these things. And I often say, “Lord, you promised that”, and I will quote some of the promises as I pray for my benefit, as I realize God keeps his word. So Nehemiah says you’re the God that keeps covenant. Mercy to those that love you and those that observe your commandments.

— Pastor Chuck Smith on Nehemiah 1

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