When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4
Nehemiah began praying for the people in Jerusalem, who were God’s people that had come under attack. His prayer is significant in many ways. Each concept within his prayer can be applied to our prayers for the restoration of the fortress walls around our own marriages. Let’s look at how he prayed, and break it down:
And I said, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, Who keeps covenant, loving-kindness, and mercy for those who love Him and keep His commandments. (vs. 5)
- He acknowledged the goodness of God. Essentially Nehemiah was saying, “I know that you love those that love You,” and “You are good.” When we are in misery it is difficult to acknowledge the goodness of God, because all we can see is the difficult things before us, and the rubble of the broken walls; however this is the most important time to praise Him. Nehemiah also exhibits trust in God when he mentions that he knows God keeps his covenants. This is something we should be doing in our prayers.
Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, statutes, and ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember [earnestly] what You commanded Your servant Moses: If you transgress and are unfaithful, I will scatter you abroad among the nations. (vs. 6-8)
- He confessed personal responsibility. Nehemiah not only became aware of his own sins, but he also confessed to both his own sins and the sins of the other Israelites. We should closely inspect our lives, looking for where we might have let the enemy in to knock down parts of the wall; we must place those weaknesses before God. When you become one with your spouse, you are tied to the blessings and curses associated with their behavior; but you can also bring forgiveness through asking for God’s mercy on their behavior. The only reason you would ask for God forgive someone is out of love, and through your love and petition on their part, you enable your heart to be renewed in forgiveness toward them, as well.
But if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the farthest part of the heavens [the expanse of outer space], yet will I gather them from there and will bring them to the place in which I have chosen to set My Name. Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere and fear Your name (Your nature and attributes); and prosper, I pray You, Your servant this day and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was cupbearer to the king. (vs. 9-11)
- He reminded God of His promises. Over and over in scripture we see people praying to God and reminding Him of His promises. The nature of recounting God’s promises in prayer isn’t to remind God of something He may have forgotten, but to remind yourself, before Him, of His word, and your trust in it. It is an act of faith to stand on His Word in prayer. In 1 Samuel 2:29, God says, “I will honor those who honor Me”. God honors faith, because faith honors God. We are honoring God by affirming scripture that coincides with our circumstances.
In your quiet time, write in your journal or speak out a prayer for your marriage.
First, remind yourself of the good things He has done, and is doing in your life, even in the middle of this. Acknowledge those things before Him, thanking Him for those blessings.
Next, spend some time thinking of ways that you have let the enemy creep in. This might not be through activity directly, sometimes it is not taking action when we are aware things are not right. Confess those things to God, and confess for your spouse the things that they have done to harm your marriage. Plead for forgiveness on their behalf.
Last, look at scripture and promises that talk about the covenant and blessings of marriage, and repeat those promises and scriptures to God, reminding yourself of His Word.