The prayer of Nehemiah (Neh 1:4-1:11)

“When I heard these words I sat down and wept. I mourned for days. I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said.

‘O Yahweh, God of heaven,

The great and awesome God,

You keep covenant and steadfast love

With those who love you,

With those who keep your commandments.

Let your ear be attentive.

Let your eyes be open.

Hear the prayer of your servant.

I now pray before you, day and night,

For your servants, the people of Israel,

I confess the sins of the people of Israel.

We have sinned against you.

Both I and my family have sinned.

We have offended you deeply.

We have failed to keep the commandments, the statutes

And the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses.

Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses,

‘If you are unfaithful,

I will scatter you among the peoples.

However if you return to me,

Keep my commandments and do them,

Though your outcasts are under the farthest skies,

I will gather them from there.

I will bring them to the place which I have chosen,

To establish my name.’

They are your servants and your people,

You redeemed them by your great power and your strong hand.

O Yahweh,

Let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant.

And your servants who delight in revering your name.

Give success to your servant today.

Grant him mercy in the sight of this man!’”

Like Ezra, he wept when he heard these bad things about Jerusalem. Both Ezra and Nehemiah responded to bad news by crying. He also fasted and prayed for an unspecified number of days. The reference here was to the God of heaven, which is the way the Persians spoke about God. This is a personal and group confession of sinfulness. He asked Yahweh to be attentive with eye and ear to hear his plea. He admitted the sins of himself, his family, and his people. They were unfaithful, but now they wanted to return to the place where Yahweh had established his name. He was willing to follow God’s commandments, ordinances, and statutes that were given through Moses.

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