Psalm 26:7--That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Structured Plot, Unstructured Prayer

Nehemiah 6:8,9--Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart. For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

Plot structure is an important concept when organizing and planning a piece of literature, and it is also key to understanding literature when reading it. Plot structure, or narrative structure, is the way in which the events in a piece of literature are related to the reader. In Nehemiah, the narrative structure is chronological; the events are related in the order they happened. However, several times throughout the book, the narration is interrupted by Nehemiah's personal addresses to God, and the tense shifts from past to present. The above verses are not the only instance.

As I read through Nehemiah and noticed this, it struck me that Nehemiah's prayer life was such an integral part of his relationship with God that the Holy Spirit had allowed him to record his prayers in Scripture. The way in which they are recorded also interested me. In the middle of telling a story, Nehemiah simply pauses and writes a prayer to God. That would seem extremely odd to us today if a storyteller did such a thing when telling his story, or if a book was interrupted in such a way. But in light of two other passages, one can see that this should be normal, not only for Nehemiah, but for anyone who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

First Thessalonians 5:17 is a single sentence: "Pray without ceasing." This is a simple, imperative sentence with an understood "You" as subject. Basically that means that God is looking you straight in the face and commanding you to "pray without ceasing." God never wants us to stop talking with Him. He desires us to have the closest relationship possible with Him, and a relationship cannot exist without communication. That's why prayer is such an essential part of walking with God. Now, obviously we can't be on our knees with our heads bowed every second of the day. That's impossible. But God wants us to be communing with Him always, in our hearts and in our minds. He wants us to walk in and talk to the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us every second of every day.

Romans 12:12 reads "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer". It is part of a list of ways in which to live Christlike. Once again there is the mention of always praying. If you continue in something you do instantly, then you are always doing it. This also means that we should always be ready to pray, ready to take our troubles, cares, burdens, praises, and problems to the Lord. God wants us to know that we can always rely on Him. This is what Nehemiah did. Most of the time when he interrupted the narrative of his book to pray, it was to ask God for help. So while we should constantly be talking with God every second, we should also always be ready to seriously pray, like we do when we get on our knees and bow our heads, because we never know when trouble will arise.

Earlier I spoke of plot structure, but our prayer life should not be structured. It should flow freely and regularly. This is how our prayer life grows stronger. We should all follow the example of Nehemiah and "pray without ceasing", being ready always to come to God in an hour of need or trial. It's hard; our minds and thoughts are easily distracted. But the harder you try and the longer you persevere, the better you will become, and this will lead into a sweet relationship with God like none other. You will know Him like you never did before, and you will continue to learn more about Him and grow in Him every day. You will be better able to hear His voice and know His will. It will be easier for You to follow His Word, and your love for Him will increase unbounded.

And if you don't have a relationship with God, it's so easy to start, and it can begin today. See the Salvation tab above for information on how to be saved. It's simple, and it's the most important decision you'll ever make. Don't put it off.

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