Showing the state of our nation in the light of God’s Holy Word


Reading: Nehemiah 1 and 2 verses 1-4

Bethel Prayer Meeting Address
by Mr. B. A. Ramsbotton (Bethel Chapel, Luton)

No doubt you must have noticed that in the latter part of the Old Testament the Lord is often spoken of as the God of heaven. And what a title! He is there in heaven, on the throne, almighty, in control. So what an encouragement to these Old Testament saints to pray to “the God of heaven,” the One who with heaven and earth at His command waits to answer prayer.” And, ‘much more believers now, in this more favoured day.’ Not just the God of heaven, but the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not just seeing Him almighty, but seeing the throne of grace, being enabled to come as sinners pleading the name of Jesus on mercy’s ground, pleading the blood of Jesus……

This is a beautiful little word: “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Of course, it is the second time we have it in these verses. Earlier on: “I….prayed before the God of heaven.” His first prayer was long. “I….prayed before the God of heaven.” His second prayer was exceedingly short. The king asked him a question and his answer seemed almost immediate, almost spontaneous. But in that second in between he prayed to the God of heaven. And beloved friends, both those prayers were answered, the long prayer and the short prayer. He was in sorrow and he prayed to the God of heaven. He heard sad news and he prayed to the God of heaven. He was so deeply concerned about the welfare of the church of God in that day, so he prayed to the God of heaven. And he very much felt his own state, as a sinner, so he prayed to the God of heaven.

Before that little, short prayer, well, he was almost in a dilemma. The king had just said, “For what dost thou make thy request?” We would say he was “put on the spot,” and it was a perplexity exactly how to answer, so he prayed to the God of heaven. There seems to be almost an emphasis on that “so”. O if these things drive us to the sinners’ Friend, drive us to the mercy seat! “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” And he received answers, blessed answers, impossible answers, because the God of heaven is greater than the kings of the earth.

What about you and me? No doubt you have had things today. No doubt you will have things tomorrow. Something will come, some concern in your family. “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Or something concerning your sins and your soul and eternity. “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Some sorrow, some joy, something unexpected. “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Something concerning those you love. “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” So we are reminded of this wonderful privilege of prayer, the blood-sprinkled mercy seat, the throne of grace, that God is in heaven. As Daniel said to the king: “There is a God in heaven.” And the privilege of us on earth, through the name and merits and finished work of Jesus, is to go to Him and to pray to Him.

Even the king’s heart was in the Lord’s hand here, and the Lord turned it whithersoever He would. Impossible things – Nehemiah’s request to go to Jerusalem – and not only the request granted, but full provision, protection, safety. Doesn’t one of the hymns say, ‘To praying souls He always gives more than they ask or think?’ In grace and in providence, for Jesus’ sake, the Lord still says, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” The Word of God is a record of prayer heard and answered, help sought and help given, deliverance requested and deliverance granted.

So may you and I be able to pray and may we know it is to the God of heaven, and may we know He is almighty, and may we sweetly realise and may we sweetly prove, “With heaven and earth at His command, He waits to answer prayer.”