Five Keys to Intentional Prayer


Here are five things we can learn from Nehemiah as keys to intentional prayer.

I can’t think of anything a follower of Christ can do to be more intentional than pray. Intentional prayer is all about having the right approach when you communicate with God.

One of the greatest prayers in Scripture is the prayer Nehemiah prayed as he prepared himself for his great adventure in trusting God. The first chapter of Nehemiah begins 450 years before Christ. Nehemiah is a slave in the palace, serving the Persian king as his cupbearer. He receives a report of the terrible condition of his homeland, and God speaks to him in that moment to do something about it.

As you read Nehemiah’s prayer, you can feel the tenderness of his heart, the brokenness he feels for his country, and the fact that he’s preparing himself for action. Nehemiah’s first response is to take action by falling on his knees with his heart open to what God desires him to do.

Nehemiah’s focus was not on himself, but on his people. He hurt for his people and he prayed for them. He could have looked first at himself and asked, “What can I do, God? I’m stuck here serving the king in the palace. There’s no way the king would let me go and do anything.” Instead, Nehemiah looked to benefit others.

Nehemiah took responsibility. He says, “We have sinned against you, God. It’s our fault we’re in the mess we’re in.” That’s one of the laws of Intentional Living—you and I are 100% responsible for what we think, feel, do and say. It’s a huge thing to be able to go to God in prayer and take responsibility for how you got where you are today.

Nehemiah also positioned himself in prayer before God as he focused on a promise instead of the pain. He didn’t come to God telling him how bad it was—but instead he spoke of the promise God had given him and his people. He rested on God’s promise.

Nehemiah found his joy because his first response was to go to God. When he came up from his knees he was joyful because he knew God was going to complete a work. God ordered his steps and took him through a process to allow Nehemiah to be a driving force to rebuild the walls of his city.

Here are five things we can learn from Nehemiah as keys to intentional prayer. Consider these things in your quiet time with God:

  1. Take action in prayer with a heart open to God.
  2. Look to benefit others.
  3. Take responsibility.
  4. Focus on a promise.
  5. Respond with joy.


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