Day 1

My Prayer to the God of Heaven

from the Nehemiah reading plan

Nehemiah 1:1-11, Deuteronomy 30:1-5, Deuteronomy 30:11-15, Hebrews 7:25

BY Amanda Bible Williams

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 1:1-11, Deuteronomy 30:1-5, Deuteronomy 30:11-15, Hebrews 7:25

Back in 2014, when the She Reads Truth community was not quite two years old, Raechel and I felt called to something unexpected and, frankly, a little terrifying. Feeling a kinship to Nehemiah and his call to rebuild the walls of his city to establish a safe place for his people to gather and worship, we believed the Lord laid it on our hearts to build a Bible app with our Shes—a place for them read Truth together, every day. As that app was being built, the community read Nehemiah—some with the very first She Reads Truth study book in hand.

Today, four years later, we are reading Nehemiah together once again.

The Lord has done remarkable things in this community of Bible-readers in those four years. So many women have opened their Bibles for the first time—or for the first time in a long time—and have kept coming back, day after day. Together, we’ve approached God’s Word again and again as days and weeks have stretched into months and years. And together, we’ve marveled at what we’ve found: God is still faithful, and His Word is still true.

When Nehemiah heard that Jerusalem’s walls had been destroyed and her gates burned to the ground, he was devastated. As he wept for his home and his people, he did the one thing he knew to do: he sought the Lord. With prayer and fasting and confession, Nehemiah petitioned the Lord on behalf of Jerusalem. He declared God’s goodness and recalled God’s faithfulness. He spoke the Lord’s promises  back to Him, believing those promises to be true while also petitioning the Lord to act on them.

Nehemiah longed for his city to be restored, and we can guess from the gumption we’ll see from him in later chapters that he felt a fire inside to bring about that restoration with his own two hands. But before he put a hand to a hammer, he bowed his knees in prayer. In his humility we see a truth confirmed throughout Scripture: any sense of calling we have, even those directly related to our faith in Christ, rests on the strength, sovereignty, and grace found only in Him. Any good work is God’s work. He invites and equips us to participate in it, which we do by faith in Him, not in ourselves.

As we read this Old Testament narrative together over the next three weeks, we’ll see how God indeed called Nehemiah to lead the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. But today, as we read this prayer from a broken man for his broken city, may we, too, begin with prayer and confession. Let’s declare God’s goodness and recall His faithfulness. Let’s speak His promises back to Him, knowing that He has both fulfilled them and is fulfilling them right where we are.

May the Holy Spirit teach us more about God the Father and Christ the Son as we read this book together. And may God give us strength and courage for whatever work He puts before us—both the grand endeavors and the single acts of faithfulness—to the honor and glory of His name.


Post Comments (218)

218 thoughts on "My Prayer to the God of Heaven"

  1. Lydia Rae says:

    Good question! Got me thinking too! Because on one hand, haven’t God’s people been called out to tell of the good news to people in far flung places, right?
    My guess would be that there’s a difference between this sort of “going out” and “scattering”. First thing I notice is that people are being gathered TO a place where God is – it’s gathering them back to him. But you’re right – there is something else about being back together with him and others. My thoughts (not based on anything other than that!) would be that there is something about identity here, and being able to live out in your true identity. I guess being a Jew in those times meant that you weren’t always met with kindness from other people – in fact, that’s pretty much a fair chunk of the Old Testament. In which case, these stories about giving land to the Israelites is a lot about giving them belonging and an identity and the ability to be close to God – gathering them together. Being scattered was also experiencing persecution. So, in this gathered place, they would be able to more easily live according to his word, be encouraged by one another, but also be close to things like their priests etc. This is how they would also receive forgiveness, through sacrifice. If they could gather for that, they couldn’t do what the law told them they needed for forgiveness.

    I also think there’s maybe just something lovely about gathering together. It’s encouraging, fun, life giving, allows us to rely on other people for things we can’t do, strengthening, etc. God is a God of relationship (He’s three in one!) so I can’t help but also think that it’s just a really good thing to not be alone. I think the challenge would be to question what it is we gather for, making sure it’s to Him, and listening for when he is sending us out.

  2. Rosanna Geisler says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve done a SRT study … it’s coming back to The Fountain to drink deep.
    God is so faithful … He’s weaving so many threads of our lives together here in Nehemiah …
    ~ Calling our souls to bless Him, love & obey Him
    ~ Drawing us to Himself before speaking to the gifts and callings He’s given us … “the grand endeavors (homeschooling these boys & growing people) & the single acts of faithfulness (invitations into the background of the stories of others)”
    ~ Reminding us of the importance of speaking out His Truth, His Word, His promises

    All to the honour & glory of His name …

  3. Libby Unwin says:

    I am wondering…. As I read, I see that it talks about “gathering” them from far and near. I’m curious….why was it so important to have them all back together? That seems to be a part of this whole redemption story. Gathering them. Why?

  4. Amanda says:

    Hi there! I am just getting acquainted with SRT and have a few questions…
    How exactly does this format work? Is it more of a reading plan, or is it a study? Are there forums to discuss content from the Scriptures for more of a “group study” experience?
    Thanks for your guidance!


  5. Jennifer Arthur says:

    As I begin a new job, a job I was not expecting, may I bring glory to God! Reading Nehemiah will help me further understand why He has called me to do His work.

  6. Jaynee Way says:

    I was struck be This verse in the Deut passage

    If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. 5 And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. oAnd he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.

    I’ve never read this before. Do you think this refers to loved ones who die before receiving Christ’s forgiveness. I’m intrigued by what this passage may mean. Thoughts please

    1. @TheCommonersCall says:

      Hey girl! This is a really great question and I see you have no responses so I thought I would take a shot at helping out incase you are still interested. Let me preface this by saying that I love love love that you are asking questions of the text. In the world that we live in, it is so easy to fall into the trap of reading the Word without really letting its meaning sink in. And if we really want the meaning to sink in, we have to ask some questions of It and ourselves. Then we should seek to find how the truth should influence us for a better step forward.

      So, to get to your question- the first thing I would suggest is to always ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and heart to see the truth He wants to reveal to you through His written Word. He wrote it and He is the only One who is fully effective at illuminating His Truth.
      I will try to partner with Him here and offer you what I have, although I will tell you it’s not much compared to what I someday hope it will be.
      After prayer, read the verse(s)/sections surrounding the verse in question. This helps us to gather a better understanding of the context and reason for writing the verse that we are looking at. If you have already done that, *high-five* to you! You’re on the right track! :)

      At this point in the book of Deuteronomy, we find Moses on his way “out.” Basically, he knows he is going to die and not be able to cross over into the Promised Land and he is making one more attempt at trying to get the nation of Israel to choose an intentional, faithful relationship with the LORD. Prior to the point in the text where we land in the text that you questioned, we can see Moses giving the rundown on blessing through obedience and curses for disobedience. Then he talks about how the covenant that God once offered Israel had been renewed, by God’s mercy and love, even though Israel had been unfaithful to Him. Then we get to chapter 30 in the book of Deuteronomy, and Moses is making a heartfelt call to Israel regarding a foundational truth about the LORD – it is on how God is faithful to forgive and restore those with repentant hearts.
      That is true just as much today as it was back then, and we should never think that just because something was mentioned in the Old Testament that it is invalid for us. This is why I love 2 Timothy 3:16-17 so much: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of Godb may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (ESV) — ALL Scripture is profitable. In this section of the Old Testament that you asked about, we can see the principles and how they apply to our lives, too.
      – I realize that is a little sidetone from the text you mentioned, but I hope you’re tracking with me and that this makes sense… My aim here is to give you as full of an understanding of the text in question, and then hopefully there is a chance for you to be able to apply these words of Truth in your life.

      Ok, so back to Deuteronomy 30:1-5 >>
      This whole segment of Scripture is referring to the LORD’s mercy and love for His people. He is saying (this is the Amanda-paraphrase now): IF you return to the LORD your God, even after such extensive wandering and sin, THEN He will restore and return to you what He has set apart for you. In verses 4 and 5 in particular, He is saying that no matter how far away the people might have run or been scattered, He can scoop them up right where they are and bring them back to Him if they are sincerely in a state of repentance. And from there, He can return them back to what He set apart for specifically for them.

      For us today, the plain and simple truth is that if our hearts are sincerely repenting of our sin and we seek to return to Him, no matter how far of the God-road we have wandered, He is faithful to return to us and gather us back to Him and His call on our lives, which is right where we belong…

      Wowee! That was more than I anticipated writing, but I sure do hope it is helpful! There is nothing that excites me like the Word of God!
      Go hard after Him, girl! You won’t regret the effort ;)

      For the fame of His Name,
      Amanda :)

      1. Tammy Budd says:

        Excellent response, Amanda! I whole heartedly agree and appreciate your insight!

        1. @TheCommonersCall says:

          Thanks, Tammy! I get pretty excited about studying and sharing the Word, so it is hard for me to keep things “short.” But I am glad that it was helpful and insightful.
          Stay in the Word,
          A :)

    2. Tabitha Ferrell says:

      This is a promise that God made to His people Israel. Because of their sin and even persecution they were scattered all over, but God promised to bring them back to the promised land. I think “uttermost parts of heaven” is not literal- it’s just saying no matter far away they are from the promised land, he will bring them home and fulfill what he said he would do.

  7. Mary Murphy says:

    After losing my 44 year old daughter to suicide 19 months ago I desperately needed answers and comfort. I found it in God’s word, the Holy Bible. The more I read, study and pray the greater my thirst for his word, Thank you for allowing me to join in to She reads the truth , God Bless!

    1. Stephanie says:

      Mary, I am so so sorry for your loss. Praise God that we can find comfort and hope and peace in His Word. Praying that it will continue to give you strength and that you will feel God’s presence as you walk through your grief. God bless you.

  8. Kaylan KeeterLewis says:

    We all have Nehemiah within us, it’s just a matter of finding the strength to feel worth and trust in the Lord on where he’s leading us.

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