This coming Sunday I’ll be preaching from Nehemiah 9; a text that is somewhat unhelpfully titled as “The Israelites Confess Their Sins”. It’s true that the people confess their sins in the text (9:3), but the clear focus of the text is the long prayer whose purpose lies in a different direction. The prayer is a selective historical reflection on the Lord’s activity on Israel’s behalf.

There is an acknowledgment of Israel’s failure to respond appropriately but the overwhelming impression you get when you read it is how amazing the Lord’s grace is. The point of the prayer is found in the very last line: “We are in great distress.” The people are pleading with the Lord to act again on their behalf; to be faithful as he has always been faithful (despite their failures).

This prayer provides us with a model for our own prayer: to reflect on the Lord’s faithfulness and crying out to him to continue to be faithful.

As we get closer to the Day of Discernment (17th September, 9:00-3:00 – It’s not too late to register!) I would like to encourage all of us to use this prayer as our model and cry out to the Lord to act faithfully (again) as we seek to discern his invitation to participate with him in his plans to restore and renew all things in Christ Jesus.