We've been looking, over the last few weeks, at Nehemiah at Wesley Hall. It's not easy to do the book justice in only 6 weeks, but that's what we've given ourselves. We were looking this morning at chapters 8-10, which contain what is, I believe, the longest recorded prayer in the Bible. And what a prayer it is!
It is, in effect, a remembering of God's faithfulness to God's people from creation onwards, with an honest recognition from the people of their failure to live up to God's perfect standard for their lives. So we read: "You have kept your promise because you are righteous." [9:8]; "But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey your commands." [9:16] "Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert." [9:19] "But they were disobedient and rebelled against you... so you handed them over to their enemies... But when they were oppressed they cried out to you... and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers... But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight." [9:26-28] "But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them, for you are a gracious and merciful God." [9:31]
What a wonderful image of God that prayer paints! A God who is constantly holding out hope to God's people, even when we reject it, or take it for granted; a God who is always ready to forgive, always willing to restore, always wanting to welcome the prodigal back into the family. There's nothing we can do to God that God's people haven't been doing to God for millennia, yet God never turns God's back on us for ever.
Is there any wonder that those who know this can't help but worship! This is Amazing Grace!