Dear Friends in Christ,
“Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting…” (Nehemiah 9:5b)
The longest prayer in the Bible is recorded in Nehemiah 9:5b-37. Upon the completion of the wall, God’s people gather for the public reading of Scripture (8:1-18) and for corporate prayer (9:5b-37). As you gather with family this week for Thanksgiving, I would encourage you to take some time to read through this Four Directional Prayer. Yes, you read it right. This is a prayer that reaches out in four directions.
First, in Nehemiah 9:5b-6, God’s people look up in praise and adoration. They praise God for who God is and exalt God for what God does. As you gather with family this week for Thanksgiving reach up and pray a prayer of adoration and praise for who God is and for what God does.
Second, in Nehemiah 9:7-31, God’s people look back in reflection and thanksgiving. They recall the many promises and the mighty deeds of God. The Promise to Abraham. The Exodus. The Giving of the Law. Wandering in the Wilderness. Joshua. Judges. Kings. Prophets. Exile. Return. As you gather with family this week for Thanksgiving take a moment to look back and remember the “hand of God” in the lives of those who have gone before us. Then take a moment to thank God for leading us this far by faith.
Third, in Nehemiah 9:32-37, God’s people take an honest look in at their present situation. We can’t undo the past, and we can’t know the future. But we can be fully in the present. And like the Israelites in Nehemiah’s day, we may not be who God longs for us to be, but knowing who we currently are is the first step toward a new direction. As you gather with family this week for Thanksgiving take an honest look in at your current reality, and share with God where you are, and then carefully listen to where God longs for you to be.
Finally, In Nehemiah 9:38 and 10:29, God’s people look ahead and pray a prayer of promise. God’s people promise to pursue a new direction. So much of their history was marked by disobedience, so in this final petition, God’s people make a promise to be obedient. As you gather with family this week for Thanksgiving, look ahead and pray a prayer of promise that you will seek to be obedient.