What happens when you are faced with a problem that is too big for you to handle? Some of you might be saying that there is no problem to big to solve. Others who are reading this might be saying that everything in my life is too big to handle. When faced with problems we can respond in different ways. Some run away from the problem and try to cover over the problem. Problems can sometimes be faced head on if we have the resources to take care of the problem. Sometimes we have no earthly idea how to deal with the problem and resort to praying about it and asking God to handle the problem.
Nehemiah was faced with a problem. His homeland was disheveled and burned with fire. His relatives were in bad shape and had been forced from their homes. When he heard the news he fell into a depression of helplessness and wept and mourned for days. When he was at his lowest, he turned to God and prayed. The following prayer is recorded in Nehemiah 1 of the Old Testament. I am going to break his prayer down into various segments to help in seeing how to pray to God who is able to take whatever problem we face and deal with it.
“Then I (Nehemiah) said: “ Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 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 family, 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. 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 was cupbearer to the king.”
Nehemiah 1:5-11 NIV
I have bolded the first step in effectively praying to God who answers prayers. Nehemiah first of all recognized God and his abilities. He recognized that God was the One who ruled the heavens or had total power and control. He recognized Him as being great and awesome. He realized that the God he was praying to was a faithful God who comes through with His promises and keeps his Word with those who love and are devoted to Him.
Too many times we come to the Lord and question whether God is able to answer our prayers. It’s in those times that we need to take some time in our prayers to meditate upon the attributes of God and dwell on His qualities to change our belief system. Isaiah in chapter 40 describes God as One who can measure the waters of the whole earth in the hollow of His hand. God can measure the heavens by the span of His hand. All the power of the whole universe compared to God’s power is like a drop in the bucket compared to God’s power. We sometimes place God in a box of limitations so that the problems we face are too big for God’s power. Our challenge is to expand our view of God so that we come to God as One who is able to meet our greatest need and more.
On this journey of prayer, it might be helpful to read passages like Isaiah 40 and Psalms 139 to expand our view of God and therefore become more effective in our prayer life.