Praying Through the Bible #35 | with Daniel Whyte III
TEXT: Nehemiah 11:17
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible”. The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the new Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have done 34 messages in this series.
This is message #35 titled “Thanksgiving in Prayer”
Over these past two weeks, we have looked at a man named Nehemiah, and we have seen how he was used by God to lead the children of Israel in the major project of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem after the exile. Last week, we saw how he faced opposition, and we saw how he overcame it through prayer. We also learned that the three ingredients for a successful prayer life are: consistent prayer, persistent prayer, and shared prayer.
Today, as we come to Nehemiah once again, we find that the walls of Jerusalem have been finished and the city has been rebuilt. Nehemiah has led the exiles who returned to the Holy Land in re-establishing the law as well as in celebrating the feasts that God had commanded them to celebrate. The people of Israel who had returned and been re-established in the land had a lot to be thankful for: not only had their homes and cities been rebuilt, but they had been saved from their enemies who tried to sabotage their work. And we find, in the middle of this chapter, which is listing the names of those who settled in the newly rebuilt Jerusalem, the name of the man who led the people in giving thanks to God.
His name was Mattaniah, and the Bible says he was the “principal” or the leader who began the time of thanksgiving and praise in prayer to God. The Bible says that God “inhabits” or dwells in the praises of his people. Why is it important for us spend time thanking God through prayer? Allow me to share with you three reasons.
1. Thanksgiving is a part of public worship. Mattaniah was one of the Levites, and the Bible states that he was “the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer.” The word “principal” means “head” or “chief”. His job was to lead the people of Israel in a time of public worship and thanksgiving to God.
2. Thanksgiving is a response to God’s mercy in our lives. One of the reasons why Mattaniah led the people in thanking God is because of God’s mercy toward the children of Israel. In Nehemiah 9:31, Nehemiah prays, “Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.” God had shown great mercy in allowing the Israelites to survive the captivity and return to the land of Israel. Despite their sins, God restored them to the land as he had promised.
3. Thanksgiving is a response to answered prayer. Mattaniah was able to lead the children of Israel in giving thanks to God because God had answered their prayers. As you will recall from our message on last week, Nehemiah had led the people in “making their prayer unto our God” while they were building the wall and being threatened by their enemies. Now that the walls were built, and they had been delivered from their enemies, the appropriate response was to give thanks to God in prayer.