And I said: “I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. Nehemiah 1:5-6 (NKJV)
Nehemiah starts his prayer for change by focusing on the greatness and power of God. Each part of his prayer in this passaage tells us something about the greatness and power of God. He starts off by addressing God as the Lord God of heaven. By calling God the Lord God of heaven he was acknowledging God’s supremacy over all things. As the Lord God of heaven, God is supreme and sovereign over the entire universe. He rules and reigns over all things, even the affairs of mankind.
To Nehemiah this meant that if God decided to do something that no one or nothing could stop Him. This meant that God could put it into the king’s heart to send Nehemiah to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. This meant that if God so chose that the wall around Jerusalem could be rebuilt and no one could stop it. When Nehemiah prayed to the Lord God of Heaven he was praying to the God who could do anything.
Next he prayed to God as a great and awesome God. This was a reference to the power and majesty of God. As the great God, He possesses all power and might. As the awesome God, He is the Supreme Being who is perfect in glory, majesty and holiness. He is the God who is high, holy and greater than any earthly being.
This seemed to mean a couple of different things to Nehemiah. First it meant that God had the power to do whatever He wanted. Not only was He sovereign that He can make any decision He wants to make, but He is also all powerful and He can make the decision come to pass and nothing could stop Him. It also seemed to mean that God was great and deserved for His name to be made great in the world. He was a God who is worthy of worship and devotion.
Finally he prays to God as the One who keeps His covenant. This was obviously a reference to God as the One who keeps His promises. He is the God who says what He means and means what He says. This was kind of a foundational hope for Nehemiah. To Nehemiah this meant that the same God who had sent destruction on Jerusalem according to His Word would also bring restoration to Jerusalem according to His Word.
Aside from the obvious aspects of just worshipping and praising God, there is something else we need to see here. As Nehemiah called out to God in this fashion He was also focusing his own mind on the greatness of God.
He was focusing his mind on the fact that God IS sovereign and make any decision He wants to make.
He was focusing his mind on the fact that God IS all powerful and can do whatever needs to be done.
He was focusing his mind on the fact that his God WAS worthy of worship and glory and honor.
He was focusing his mind on the fact that God DOES keep His Word and always does what He says He will do.
As much as these were words of worship, this was also Nehemiah’s confession of his faith in God. Nehemiah was confessing his faith that God could truly do anything.
Do we truly believe that our God can do anything? According to the Bible nothing is too hard for God.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:14 NKJV)
Through the power of God an elderly, barren woman can have a child. God can and will keep His promises even when nature says it’s not possible.
“For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37 NKJV)
Through the power of God a virgin can conceive and give birth to the Son of God. God can and will keep His promises even when it’s not humanly possible to do so.
“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NKJV)
Through the power of God even a rich man can be saved. God can and will keep His promises even when everything in the world says there is no way it can happen.
If someone asked us if e believed our God was that great and awesome, every one of us would say yes. Do our prayers reflect this? Does our life reflect this? We must be absolutely convinced of the greatness and power of our God before we can do what needs to be done. This is why we focus on God’s greatness and power. We do this to fill our minds and our hearts with the truth about God’s greatness and power so that this truth will dispel our fears and doubts. When our hearts and minds are filled with certainty about God’s greatness and power we cannot help but bring change to the world around us.