Nehemiah 1: Nehemiah’s Prayer


(11 verses, 2:05 to read)

What I am about to READ

Nehemiah asks God to help the Jewish remnant in Jerusalem


  • Nehemiah introduced himself as the writer and as the “cupbearer to the king” of Persia (verse 11). A ceremonial part of Nehemiah’s job was to protect the king from assassination by poisoning. This made Nehemiah a high-ranking official in the Persian government.
  • Nehemiah heard a discouraging report about the Jewish remnant in Jerusalem. The walls of the city of Jerusalem were broken down and its gates had been burned with fire. This was disgraceful because God had chosen to reveal Himself to the world in this Holy City. Jerusalem remained an underpopulated, unprotected village in the Judean backwater of the Persian Empire. Its enemies wanted things to stay that way.
  • We don’t know where Ezra was at this time. Perhaps he had returned to Persia to continue his duties. In any case, his work among the people had suffered in the short 12-year period prior to Nehemiah’s work.
  • Nehemiah was a man familiar with Scripture whose faith led him to repent of his own and his people’s sins. He knew God’s promises so well that he dared to humbly yet confidently confront the Lord with petitions and intercessions.
  • Nehemiah contains more prayers per page than any other book of the Bible. Nehemiah’s prayer in this chapter reveals that God is faithful in His love and His promises to forgive sin. He is awesome in His holiness and serious about His law. God warns that He will make good on His threats, as He has done in the past, toward the unrepentant. He is the God of power who rules and controls everything.


In verse 4, when Nehemiah became “conscious of sin,” he mourned, fasted, wept, and prayed for forgiveness for himself and his people. This is a wonderful example for us today. We may be tempted to deny our sin and shift the blame onto someone else, minimize or deny our sins, or think ourselves better than others. However, an honest look at ourselves must produce a genuine confession of our failure to live according to God’s will.  Also – in this chapter Nehemiah prayed “day and night.” He interceded (prayed) on behalf of other people who had sinned. In our busy lives, we can set aside specific prayer times. We can remove distractions during those times. We might make prayer lists to remind us to pray for the needs of other people.

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