Praying and Planning
Reflect on Your Life
1. What time of day would you most likely be caught praying?
2. What kinds of things do you usually pray about?
Read the Passage
Read Nehemiah 1:1-2:10 .
3. Describe the role of a cupbearer in the ancient kingdom in which Nehemiah lived. What position would be similar in our government today?
4. This opening section mentions prayer in at least three different forms (see 1:4; 1:5-11; 2:4). Describe the situation and purpose of each. How did prayer help Nehemiah?
5. Using the extended prayer in Nehemiah 1:5-11, identify each of these elements of prayer:
Realize the Principle
6. How are prayer and fear related (see Nehemiah 2:2)?
7. How are prayer and planning related (seeNehemiah 2:7-8)?
We can pray at any time and all the time. Our prayers can be quick or slow, long or short, silent or shouted. Prayers can be deep and thought-out, or desperate and simple. For Nehemiah, prayer was a way of life. He had developed the habit of letting God be part of his thoughts, plans, and actions. Nehemiah also demonstrated an important principle: after we pray, there are usually a number of important tasks for us to do; until we pray, that is the most important task to do. Prayer wasn’t the last thing on Nehemiah’s list of options, it was the first. Because it was his habit to talk to God all the time, it was natural to turn to God when he was under stress and pressure. Until we make prayer a habit, we can’t very well expect it to be helpful.
8. How would you explain prayer to a small child?
9. Describe two or three times when prayer really helped you.
10. With what aspects of prayer do you find yourself struggling the most?
11. What regular patterns of prayer have helped you the most?
Respond to the Message
12. What do you think it would take to make prayer a regular routine or habit in your life?
13. How might prayer help you respond to the challenges that lie ahead of you this week, month, or year?
Resolve to Take Action
14. Using Nehemiah’s prayer (Nehemiah 1:5-11) as an example, write out a prayer of your own. Choose a specific challenge you are facing and express your need for God’s help. Include the other components of prayer noted above. Once you have composed it, pray this prayer. Then refer back to it as he answers.
More for Studying Other Themes in This Section
A. Seventy years had passed since the temple was rebuilt, but the walls were still in ruins. How do people get used to living in rubble? What kinds of “rubble” do people get used to today?
B. Choose three or four adjectives to describe Nehemiah. What words would people use to describe your courage, leadership, and prayer life?
C. Nehemiah and his people had to travel eight hundred miles by foot. What kind of a mission could you imagine that would cause you to attempt such a difficult journey?
This study is adapted from Ezra & Nehemiah: A Life Application Bible Study (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1990).