Bible Study Guides – The Prayers of the Righteous

November 17, 2012 – November 23, 2012

Key Text

“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” James 5:10.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 3, 273–288; The Sanctified Life, 42–52.


“The sincerity of our prayers can be proved only by the vigor of our endeavor to obey God’s commandments.” Counsels on Health, 504.


  • What can we learn from the prayers of godly men? Nehemiah 1:4–11; Daniel 9:3–5.

Note: “Nehemiah humbled himself before God, giving Him the glory due unto His name. Thus also did Daniel in Babylon. Let us study the prayers of these men. They teach us that we are to humble ourselves, but that we are never to obliterate the line of demarcation between God’s commandment-keeping people and those who have no respect for His law.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1136.

  • How did God open the way for Nehemiah’s work? Nehemiah 2:1–6.

Note: “He [Nehemiah] had a sacred trust to fulfill, in which he required help from the king; and he realized that much depended upon his presenting the matter in such a way as to win his approval and enlist his aid. ‘I prayed,’ he said, ‘to the God of heaven’ [Nehemiah 2:4]. In that brief prayer Nehemiah pressed into the presence of the King of kings and won to his side a power that can turn hearts as the rivers of waters are turned.” Prophets and Kings, 631.

“Nehemiah did not regard his duty as done when he had mourned and wept and prayed before the Lord. He did not only pray. He worked, mingling petition and endeavor.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 346.


  • Why did Elijah’s prayer so effectively alter the course of nature? James 5:17.

Note: “Viewing this [Israel’s] apostasy from his mountain retreat, Elijah was overwhelmed with sorrow. In anguish of soul he besought God to arrest the once-favored people in their wicked course, to visit them with judgments, if need be, that they might be led to see in its true light their departure from Heaven. He longed to see them brought to repentance before they should go to such lengths in evil-doing as to provoke the Lord to destroy them utterly.

“Elijah’s prayer was answered. Oft-repeated appeals, remonstrances, and warnings had failed to bring Israel to repentance. The time had come when God must speak to them by means of judgments. Inasmuch as the worshipers of Baal claimed that the treasures of heaven, the dew and the rain, came not from Jehovah, but from the ruling forces of nature, and that it was through the creative energy of the sun that the earth was enriched and made to bring forth abundantly, the curse of God was to rest heavily upon the polluted land. The apostate tribes of Israel were to be shown the folly of trusting to the power of Baal for temporal blessings. Until they should turn to God with repentance, and acknowledge Him as the source of all blessing, there should fall upon the land neither dew nor rain.” Prophets and Kings, 120.

  • Relate Elijah’s experience at Mount Carmel. I Kings 18:17–45; James 5:18.

Note: “He [Elijah] reminds the people of their degeneracy, which has awakened the wrath of God against them, and then calls upon them to humble their hearts and turn to the God of their fathers, that His curse may be removed from them. …

“He then reverentially bows before the unseen God, raises his hands toward heaven, and offers a calm and simple prayer, unattended with violent gestures or contortions of the body. No shrieks resound over Carmel’s height. A solemn silence, which is oppressive to the priests of Baal, rests upon all. In his prayer, Elijah makes use of no extravagant expressions. He prays to Jehovah as though He were nigh, witnessing the whole scene, and hearing his sincere, fervent, yet simple prayer. Baal’s priests have screamed, and foamed, and leaped, and prayed, very long—from morning until near evening. Elijah’s prayer is very short, earnest, reverential, and sincere.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 284, 285.


  • Why didn’t the rain come immediately after Elijah’s first prayer? Psalm 26:2.

Note: “Important lessons are presented to us in the experience of Elijah. When upon Mount Carmel he offered the prayer for rain, his faith was tested, but he persevered in making known his request unto God. Six times he prayed earnestly, and yet there was no sign that his petition was granted, but with strong faith he urged his plea to the throne of grace. Had he given up in discouragement at the sixth time, his prayer would not have been answered, but he persevered till the answer came. We have a God whose ear is not closed to our petitions; and if we prove His word, He will honor our faith. He wants us to have all our interests interwoven with His interests, and then He can safely bless us; for we shall not then take glory to self when the blessing is ours, but shall render all the praise to God. God does not always answer our prayers the first time we call upon Him; for should He do this, we might take it for granted that we had a right to all the blessings and favors He bestowed upon us. Instead of searching our hearts to see if any evil was entertained by us, any sin indulged, we should become careless, and fail to realize our dependence upon Him, and our need of His help.” The Review and Herald, June 9, 1891.

  • What were Isaiah’s concerns when he was called by God, and how was he strengthened by communion with the Almighty? Isaiah 6:5-7.

Note: “The prophet [Isaiah] was nerved for the work before him. The memory of this vision was carried with him throughout his long and arduous mission.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 751.

  • During the time Jonah was neglecting his duty to God, what serious warning must we heed from his experience? Jonah 1:1–12.

Note: “The prayers of the man [Jonah] who had turned aside from the path of duty brought no help.” Prophets and Kings, 267.

  • What does Jonah’s history also teach of God’s delight in the prayers of the penitent? Jonah 2:1–10; 3:4–10.


  • How important was prayer to the prophet Daniel? Daniel 6:4–10.

Note: “The decree goes forth from the king. Daniel is aware of all that has been done. … But he does not change his course in a single particular.” The Review and Herald, February 8, 1881.

“Have a set time, a special season for prayer at least three times a day. Morning, noon, and at night Daniel prayed to his God, notwithstanding the king’s decree, and the fearful den of lions. He was not ashamed or afraid to pray, but with his windows opened he prayed three times a day.” The Youth’s Instructor, October 1, 1855.

  • What can we learn from Daniel’s prayer for apostate Israel? Daniel 9:4–19.

Note: “The man of God was praying, not for a flight of happy feeling, but for a knowledge of the divine will. And he desired this knowledge, not merely for himself, but for his people. His great burden was for Israel, who were not, in the strictest sense, keeping the law of God. He acknowledges that all their misfortunes have come upon them in consequence of their transgressions of that holy law. … They had lost their peculiar, holy character as God’s chosen people. [Daniel 9:17 quoted.] Daniel’s heart turns with intense longing to the desolate sanctuary of God. He knows that its prosperity can be restored only as Israel shall repent of their transgressions of God’s law, and become humble, and faithful, and obedient.” The Review and Herald, February 8, 1881.

“Daniel’s heart was burdened for the people of God, for the city and temple that were laid waste. His deepest interest was for the honor of God and the prosperity of Israel. It was this that moved him to seek God with prayer and fasting and deep humiliation. Brethren in responsible positions in the Lord’s work for this time, have not we as great need to call upon God as had Daniel? I address those who believe that we are living in the very last period of this earth’s history. I entreat you to take upon your own souls a burden for our churches, our schools, and our institutions. That God who heard Daniel’s prayer will hear ours when we come to Him in contrition. Our necessities are as urgent, our difficulties are as great, and we need to have the same intensity of purpose, and in faith roll our burden upon the great Burden-bearer. There is need for hearts to be as deeply moved in our time as in the time when Daniel prayed.” Ibid., February 9, 1897.


  • What should characterize our prayers today, and why? II Corinthians 6:2.

Note: “In the early stages of this work, there were but few friends of the cause. These servants of God wept and prayed for a clear understanding of the truth. They suffered privations and much self-denial, in order to spread a knowledge of it; and although as the result of much labor but few received the precious message, yet step by step they followed as God’s opening providence led the way. They did not study their own convenience or shrink at hardships. God, through these men, prepared the way, and the truth has been made very plain; yet some who have since embraced the truth have failed to take upon themselves the burden of the work.” The Review and Herald, February 12, 1880.

“God has loaded us with His benefits. Immortal blessings have been poured upon us in great measure. Messengers have been sent with warnings, reproofs, and entreaties. God’s servants have wept and prayed over the lukewarm state of the church. Some may arouse, but only to fall back into unconsciousness of their sin and peril. Passion, worldliness, malice, envy, pride, strife for supremacy, make our churches weak and powerless. … It is still thy day, O church of God, whom He has made the depositary of His law. But this day of trust and probation is fast drawing to a close. The sun is fast westering. … It is time to seek God earnestly, saying with Jacob, ‘I will not let thee go except thou bless me’ [Genesis 32:26]. It will be of no avail to make a spasmodic effort, only to fall back into spiritual lethargy and lukewarmness. The past, with the slighted mercies, the admonitions unheeded, the earthly passions uncorrected, the privileges unimproved, the soul temple filled with desecrated shrines—all is recorded in the books of heaven. But most solemn moments are still before you. Because of past neglect, the efforts you make must be the more earnest.” The Review and Herald, November 2, 1886.


1 How did Nehemiah win the favor of the king?

2 What should we learn from the prayers of the men discussed in this lesson?

3 Why was there a delay before the answer came?

4 Why did Daniel include himself in prayer for Israel?

5 What may be hindering our prayers from being heard?

© 2003 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Onward Reformation!

December 20, 2015 – December 26, 2015

Key Text

“Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof.” Nehemiah 13:14.

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 669–678.


“The world has gone astray from God, and its lawless state should strike terror to the heart, and lead all who are loyal to the great King to work for a reformation.” The Signs of the Times, January 17, 1884.


  • After the Jews settled in their homeland and pledged themselves to obey God, what happened in the absence of Nehemiah? Nehemiah 8:18; 9:1, 2; 10:28–31; 13:6.
  • What situation did he find upon his return to Jerusalem? Nehemiah 13:7.

Note: “Idolaters not only gained a foothold in the city, but contaminated by their presence the very precincts of the temple. Through intermarriage, a friendship had been brought about between Eliashib the high priest and Tobiah the Ammonite, Israel’s bitter enemy. As a result of this unhallowed alliance, Eliashib had permitted Tobiah to occupy an apartment connected with the temple, which heretofore had been used as a storeroom for tithes and offerings of the people.” Prophets and Kings, 669.

  • In defiance of the word of God (Deuteronomy 23:3–6), what did Eliashib, the high priest, do? What first step did Nehemiah take in the work of reform? Nehemiah 13:7–9.


  • As the offerings had been misapplied, in what sense did many people become discouraged? Nehemiah 13:4, 5. What were many servants of the temple led to do out of necessity? Nehemiah 13:10.

Note: “In defiance of this word [God’s command], the high priest had cast out the offerings stored in the chamber of God’s house, to make a place for this representative of a proscribed race. Greater contempt for God could not have been shown than to confer such a favor on this enemy of God and His truth.

“On returning from Persia, Nehemiah learned of the bold profanation and took prompt measures to expel the intruder. …

“Not only had the temple been profaned, but the offerings had been misapplied. This had tended to discourage the liberalities of the people. They had lost their zeal and fervor, and were reluctant to pay their tithes. The treasuries of the Lord’s house were poorly supplied; many of the singers and others employed in the temple service, not receiving sufficient support, had left the work of God to labor elsewhere.” Prophets and Kings, 670.

  • How did the people respond to Nehemiah’s decisive leadership in making reformatory efforts? Nehemiah 13:11–13.

Note: “Nehemiah set to work to correct these abuses. He gathered together those who had left the service of the Lord’s house, ‘and set them in their place.’ This inspired the people with confidence, and all Judah brought ‘the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil.’ Men who ‘were counted faithful’ were made ‘treasurers over the treasuries,’ ‘and their office was to distribute unto their brethren’ (Nehemiah 13:11–13).” Prophets and Kings, 670.

“The success attending Nehemiah’s efforts shows what prayer, faith, and wise, energetic action will accomplish. Nehemiah was not a priest; he was not a prophet; he made no pretension to high title. He was a reformer raised up for an important time. It was his aim to set his people right with God. Inspired with a great purpose, he bent every energy of his being to its accomplishment.” Ibid., 675, 676.


  • How was the sign distinguishing the Israelites from the heathen disregarded during Nehemiah’s absence? Nehemiah 13:15, 16.

Note: “Another result of intercourse with idolaters was a disregard of the Sabbath, the sign distinguishing the Israelites from all other nations as worshipers of the true God. Nehemiah found that heathen merchants and traders from the surrounding country, coming to Jerusalem, had induced many among the Israelites to engage in traffic on the Sabbath. There were some who could not be persuaded to sacrifice principle, but others transgressed and joined with the heathen in their efforts to overcome the scruples of the more conscientious. Many dared openly to violate the Sabbath. …

“This state of things might have been prevented had the rulers exercised their authority; but a desire to advance their own interests had led them to favor the ungodly.” Prophets and Kings, 671.

  • How and why did Nehemiah rebuke the leaders for their neglect of duty? Nehemiah 13:17, 18.

Note: “Not inclined to abandon their purpose, ‘the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice,’ hoping to find opportunity for traffic (Nehemiah 13:20).” Prophets and Kings, 672.

  • How did Nehemiah act to correct this state of things? Nehemiah 13:19–22.

Note: “He [Nehemiah] also directed the Levites to guard the gates, knowing that they would command greater respect than the common people, while from their close connection with the service of God it was reasonable to expect that they would be more zealous in enforcing obedience to His law.” Prophets and Kings, 673.

“For evils that we might have checked, we are just as responsible as if we were guilty of the acts ourselves.” The Desire of Ages, 441.


  • How did God help Nehemiah to arouse the consciousness of the people to the need of a decided reformation in their marriage relationships? Nehemiah 13:23–27.

Note: “These unlawful alliances [from intermarriage and association with idolaters] were causing great confusion in Israel; for some who entered into them were men in high position, rulers to whom the people had a right to look for counsel and a safe example. Foreseeing the ruin before the nation if this evil were allowed to continue, Nehemiah reasoned earnestly with the wrongdoers. …

“As he set before them God’s commands and threatenings, and the fearful judgments visited on Israel in the past for this very sin, their consciences were aroused, and a work of reformation was begun that turned away God’s threatened anger and brought His approval and blessing.” Prophets and Kings, 673, 674.

  • What was one thing that Nehemiah did, in his human weakness, that a worker in the Lord’s vineyard should never do? Nehemiah 13:25.

Note: “Reformers must advance, not retreat. They must be decided, firm, resolute, unflinching; but firmness must not degenerate into a domineering spirit.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 151.

  • What was the main reason why Eliashib, the high priest, his son, and his grandson became disqualified for the priesthood? Nehemiah 13:28, 29. What happens to those who have opinions but have no convictions? Matthew 15:14.

Note: “There were some in sacred office who pleaded for their heathen wives, declaring that they could not bring themselves to separate from them. But no distinction was made; no respect was shown for rank or position. Whoever among the priests or rulers refused to sever his connection with idolaters was immediately separated from the service of the Lord. A grandson of the high priest, having married a daughter of the notorious Sanballat, was not only removed from office, but promptly banished from Israel.” Prophets and Kings, 674.


  • What lessons should we learn from the work of Ezra and Nehemiah? Isaiah 57:12–14; Romans 15:4.

Note: “In the work of reform to be carried forward today, there is need of men who, like Ezra and Nehemiah, will not palliate or excuse sin, nor shrink from vindicating the honor of God. Those upon whom rests the burden of this work will not hold their peace when wrong is done, neither will they cover evil with a cloak of false charity. They will remember that God is no respecter of persons, and that severity to a few may prove mercy to many. They will remember also that in the one who rebukes evil the spirit of Christ should ever be revealed.

“In their work, Ezra and Nehemiah humbled themselves before God, confessing their sins and the sins of their people, and entreating pardon as if they themselves were the offenders. Patiently they toiled and prayed and suffered.” Prophets and Kings, 675.

“The work of restoration and reform … presents a picture of a work of spiritual restoration that is to be wrought in the closing days of this earth’s history. …

“In the time of the end every divine institution is to be restored. The breach made in the law at the time the Sabbath was changed by man, is to be repaired. God’s remnant people, standing before the world as reformers, are to show that the law of God is the foundation of all enduring reform and that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is to stand as a memorial of creation, a constant reminder of the power of God. In clear, distinct lines they are to present the necessity of obedience to all the precepts of the Decalogue. Constrained by the love of Christ, they are to co-operate with Him in building up the waste places. They are to be repairers of the breach, restorers of paths to dwell in.” Ibid., 677, 678.


1 How did Nehemiah promote his reformatory efforts?

2 How was Sabbath keeping restored?

3 God has a present truth in every generation. What is His will today regarding the sanctity and preservation of marriage?

4 Explain the relevance of the experiences of Ezra and Nehemiah in our time.

5 What question should we all ask ourselves as Christ’s witnesses?

© 2014 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Nehemiah, a Decided Reformer

December 13, 2015 – December 19, 2015

Key Text

“Remember me, O my God, for good.” Nehemiah 13:31.

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 628–660.


“Through this man [Nehemiah] … God purposed to bring blessing to His people in the land of their fathers.” Conflict and Courage, 262.


  • Who was Nehemiah? What news did he receive from Jerusalem that led him to mourn, fast, and pray? Nehemiah 1:2–5.

Note: “Nehemiah had often poured out his soul in behalf of his people. But now as he prayed a holy purpose formed in his mind. He resolved that if he could obtain the consent of the king, and the necessary aid in procuring implements and material, he would himself undertake the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and restoring Israel’s national strength. And he asked the Lord to grant him favor in the sight of the king, that this plan might be carried out.” Prophets and Kings, 629, 630.

  • How long had Nehemiah waited for an opportunity to talk to the king about his need? Relate their conversation. Nehemiah 2:2, 3.
  • How did Nehemiah’s prayer bring the power of the Almighty to his aid? How did he pray? Nehemiah 2:4–6.


  • What lesson should we learn from Nehemiah’s prayer? Nehemiah 2:4, last part.

Note: “To pray as Nehemiah prayed in his hour of need is a resource at the command of the Christian under circumstances when other forms of prayer may be impossible. Toilers in the busy walks of life, crowded and almost overwhelmed with perplexity, can send up a petition to God for divine guidance. Travelers by sea and land, when threatened with some great danger, can thus commit themselves to Heaven’s protection. In times of sudden difficulty or peril the heart may send up its cry for help to One Who has pledged Himself to come to the aid of His faithful, believing ones whenever they call upon Him. In every circumstance, under every condition, the soul weighed down with grief and care, or fiercely assailed by temptation, may find assurance, support, and succor in the unfailing love and power of a covenant-keeping God.” Prophets and Kings, 631, 632.

  • Explain Nehemiah’s care to obtain a clear definition of his authority and of the privileges granted him? Nehemiah 2:7–9.

Note: “This example of [Nehemiah’s] wise forethought and resolute action should be a lesson to all Christians. God’s children are not only to pray in faith, but to work with diligent and provident care. They encounter many difficulties and often hinder the working of Providence in their behalf, because they regard prudence and painstaking effort as having little to do with religion. Nehemiah did not regard his duty done when he had wept and prayed before the Lord. He united his petitions with holy endeavor, putting forth earnest, prayerful efforts for the success of the enterprise in which he was engaged. Careful consideration and well-matured plans are as essential to the carrying forward of sacred enterprises today as in the time of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. …

“And the Lord is still willing to move upon the hearts of those in possession of His goods, in behalf of the cause of truth. Those who labor for Him are to avail themselves of the help that He prompts men to give.” Prophets and Kings, 633, 634.


  • What was Nehemiah’s first work in Jerusalem, and how did he gain the cooperation of the local people? Nehemiah 2:11–16.

Note: “In secrecy and silence Nehemiah completed his circuit of the walls. [Nehemiah 2:16 quoted.] The remainder of the night he spent in prayer; for he knew that the morning would call for earnest effort to arouse and unite his dispirited and divided countrymen.

“Nehemiah bore a royal commission requiring the inhabitants to co-operate with him in rebuilding the walls of the city, but he did not depend upon the exercise of authority. He sought rather to gain the confidence and sympathy of the people, knowing that a union of hearts as well as of hands was essential in the great work before him.” Prophets and Kings, 636, 637.

  • What appeal did Nehemiah make to the people, and what was their response? Nehemiah 2:17, 18.

Note: “When on the morrow he called the people together he presented such arguments as were calculated to arouse their dormant energies and unite their scattered numbers.

“Nehemiah’s hearers did not know, neither did he tell them, of his midnight circuit of the night before. But the fact that he had made this circuit contributed greatly to his success; for he was able to speak of the condition of the city with an accuracy and a minuteness that astonished his hearers. The impression made upon him as he had looked upon the weakness and degradation of Jerusalem, gave earnestness and power to his words. …

“Having shown that he was sustained by the combined authority of the God of Israel and the Persian king, Nehemiah asked the people directly whether they would take advantage of this opportunity and arise and build the wall.

“The appeal went straight to their hearts. The thought of how Heaven’s favor had been manifested toward them put their fears to shame. …

“Nehemiah’s whole soul was in the enterprise he had undertaken. His hope, his energy, his enthusiasm, his determination, were contagious, inspiring others with the same high courage and lofty purpose.” Prophets and Kings, 637, 638.


  • What method will some use to hide their anger or fear? When the enemies of Israel heard that the Jews had again started to build, how did they laugh at them? Nehemiah 4:1–4.
  • When the enemies of Israel saw that their fears were coming true, what plan did they adopt? Nehemiah 4:11. How did Satan try to discourage the builders through the Jews that refused to collaborate in the work? Verse 12.

Note: “Discouragement came from still another source. ‘The Jews which dwelt by’ (Nehemiah 4:12), those who were taking no part in the work, gathered up the statements and reports of their enemies and used these to weaken courage and create disaffection.” Prophets and Kings, 643.

  • What happened when the Jews were informed of their enemies’ plan? Instead of being intimidated, under what conditions did they continue the work? Nehemiah 4:15–18.

Note: “The opposition and discouragement that the builders in Nehemiah’s day met from open enemies and pretended friends is typical of the experience that those today will have who work for God. Christians are tried, not only by the anger, contempt, and cruelty of enemies, but by the indolence, inconsistency, lukewarmness, and treachery of avowed friends and helpers. Derision and reproach are hurled at them. And the same enemy that leads to contempt, at a favorable opportunity uses more cruel and violent measures.

“Satan takes advantage of every unconsecrated element for the accomplishment of his purposes. Among those who profess to be the supporters of God’s cause there are those who unite with His enemies and thus lay His cause open to the attacks of His bitterest foes. … But, like Nehemiah, God’s people are neither to fear nor to despise their enemies. Putting their trust in God, they are to go steadily forward, doing His work with unselfishness, and committing to His providence the cause for which they stand.” Prophets and Kings, 644, 645.


  • What happened when the enemies of Israel realized the Jews had almost completed the wall? How did the enemies change their tactics? Nehemiah 6:1–3.

Note: “Pretending to desire a compromise of the opposing parties, they [Sanballat and his confederates] sought a conference with Nehemiah, and invited him to meet them in a village on the plain of Ono. But enlightened by the Holy Spirit as to their real purpose, he refused.” Prophets and Kings, 653.

  • What new stratagem did Sanballat and his confederates use? What did Nehemiah answer them? Nehemiah 6:5–8. What mistake was Nehemiah careful to avoid?

Note: “He who by any unguarded act exposes the cause of God to reproach, or weakens the hands of his fellow workers, brings upon his own character a stain not easily removed, and places a serious obstacle in the way of his future usefulness.” Prophets and Kings, 659.

  • Describe the outpouring of emotion upon the completion of the wall and the gates. Nehemiah 8:16, 17. How did the enemies of the people of God feel? Nehemiah 6:15, 16.


1 What did Nehemiah do before answering King Artaxerxes?

2 How did Nehemiah exercise care in all the arrangements?

3 What did the reformer do first in Jerusalem—and why?

4 How can we gain advantage over the tactics of Satan today—just as the builders of the wall did in their time?

5 What was Nehemiah able to detect about the enemies?

© 2014 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.