Nehemiah 1:5-6a — “O Lord, God of Heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps His covenant with those who love Him and obey His commands. Let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer Your servant is praying before You day and night for Your servants.”

Nehemiah was a prophet praying for the Jewish people.

As I was reading for my morning meditation, I was flooded with Scriptures regarding prayer. I cannot remember the number of times I’ve heard, “Pray for me” or “I’ll pray for you.”

At times it seems more like a religious way of saying “farewell” or “I’ll see you later,” rather than an actual action of prayer.

Before I was saved, while I was still seeking Christ, I asked, “What’s this prayer thing?” The simple answer I got was, “Talking to God.” So, being a smart aleck, I asked, “Does He answer?” The reply: “Yes, through Scripture, His written word.”

The more I read, and the more I participated, the more I began to understand. I think my biggest breakthrough in the understanding and practice of prayer was when someone asked me, “What’s this prayer thing?”

Naturally I repeated what was first told to me. Because they wanted more I shared more. One of the simplest things I was able to remember there on the spot was the acrostic for ACTS. 

A — Adoration, appreciation of God.

C — Confession of need of God’s grace and mercy.

T — Thankful of all God has provided, including people, provisions and possibilities.

S — Supplication, prayers and intercession for others.

The next step in that parade is, “What’s the difference between Prayer, Intercession and Supplication, aren’t they all the same — just different ways of saying it?”

I cannot properly express how grateful I am to that person; their questions, their seeking, actually helped me put what I knew, what I had learned and believed, into words.

My mind flooded with Scriptures. For example, Paul’s prayer for the Colossians in Verse 2 of Chapter 4: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

And 1 Timothy 2:1: “I exhort you therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving thanks be made for all men.”

The Apostle Paul was highly educated and right there before me he identifies prayer among “First Things.” Then he specifically identifies several types of prayer.

The opening Scripture passage from Nehemiah, with which I led this column, is a prayer.

The Gospel of John Chapter 17 is a demonstration of Jesus’ prayer life. In 17:1-5 Jesus prays for Himself. Verses 6-19 is his prayer of supplication. Verse 9: “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world.” Continue with His third prayer, in verses 20-26, for prayers of intercession. Verse 20 says: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”

Intercessions from 1 John 2:1-2: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

If may be helpful for us to remember “First Things.” Prayer should be the first thing, not the last thing.

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