I spent this last weekend up in Flagstaff with my wife Nadine, my son Carter, my daughter Victoria, and her two children Brayden and Keaton. We decided to take a walk to the park and have the boys play in the kids park which had swings, a tetter-tauter, a castle, slipper-slide, and plenty of sand to build sand castles. It also had picnic tables for the adults to sit on and a bathroom for bathroom breaks.
As boys would have it, they went into the bathroom and came out with an amazing discovery. Under one of the stalls was a spider web and a spider hanging from the door of the stall. Keaton was enthralled with the spider and wanted everyone to see the spider specimen. When he came to me, he said, “Papa, come see the spider” He wanted to get my attention. He needed to get my attention so that I would go and see what he had found. He wanted me to hear and to go do what he wanted me to go and do. “Papa.” He even grabbed my hand to make sure that I would go with him to see his discovery.
Nehemiah did the same thing that my grandson did. He wanted to get God’s attention as to what he was praying about. Nehemiah said the bolded phrase two times–before he began to pray and at the end of his prayer. “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
Praying isn’t about just saying the words. It’s not eloquent words that are spoken. The purpose of prayers is to get and to keep the Lord’s attention and to cause Him to act on our behalf. What use is our prayers if we pray but don’t know that the Lord is hearing us. We need to get His attention after we have humbled ourselves by recognizing that He is the only one that can answer our requests.
On this journey, getting the Lord’s attention is crucial in getting the requests that we have asked of Him.