The God to Whom We Pray
Nehemiah demonstrates power in prayer. As a servant to King Artaxerxes of Persia, he had no right to request leave to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, much less to requisition materials and protection. Yet knowing the nature of the God he served, Nehemiah did not hesitate to act boldly and ask the king for what was needed.
His prayer began, “I beseech You, O lord God of heaven” (Neh. 1:5). Lord, when it appears in all capital letters, denotes the word Jehovah (a form of Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God). It means “God who is eternal in His being”—conveying that everything everywhere is in His presence. So, when God makes a promise, He knows how He will keep it. That is why Nehemiah called Him “the awesome God who preserves the covenant.” He knew God was committed to bringing repentant Israelites back to their homeland to dwell in His presence (v. 9).
Another Hebrew name used to refer to God, Elohim, is translated “He who is absolutely sovereign.” If He spoke the world into being, then He is certainly more than able to provide Nehemiah with supplies, some time off from work, and favor from the Persian king.
There are many other names for God, such as Adonai (“master”), Jehovah-Jireh (“provider”), and Jehovah-Rapha (“healer”). Since the Hebrew language is precise, it can help us to better know who He is—when we need solace, we call upon the God of comfort; in our confusion, we have the God who teaches. Just as knowing one’s audience affects which words we choose to speak, the way we view God impacts how we pray.