1These are the words of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the son of Hacaliah: I, Nehemiah, was in the capital city of Susa in the month of Kislev. This was in the 20th year ˻that Artaxerxes was king˼. 2While I was in Susa, one of my brothers named Hanani and some other men came from Judah. I asked them about the Jews living there. These were the Jews that had escaped captivity and still lived in Judah. And I also asked them about the city of Jerusalem. 3Hanani and the men with him said, “Nehemiah, those Jews that escaped captivity and are in the land of Judah are in much trouble. Those people are having many problems and are full of shame. Why? Because the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4When I heard those things about the people of Jerusalem and about the wall, I was very upset. I sat down and cried. I was very sad. I fasted and prayed to the God of Heaven for several days. 5Then I prayed this prayer: Lord, God of Heaven, you are the great and powerful God. You are the God who keeps his agreement of love with people that love you and obey your commands. 6Please open your eyes and ears and listen to the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night. I am praying for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we people of Israel have done against you. I am confessing that I have sinned against you and that the other people in my father’s family have sinned against you. 7We people of Israel have been very bad to you. We have not obeyed the commands, teachings, and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8Please remember the teaching you gave your servant Moses. You said to him, “If you people of Israel are not faithful, I will force you to be scattered among the other nations. 9But if you people of Israel come back to me and obey my commands, then this is what I will do: Even if your people have been forced to leave their homes and go to the ends of the earth, I will gather them from there. And I will bring them back to the place I have chosen to put my name.” 10The people of Israel are your servants and your people. You used your great power and rescued those people. 11So Lord, please listen to my prayer. I am your servant. And please listen to the prayers of your servants that want to show respect for your name. Lord, you know I am the king’s wine servant. So please help me today. Help me as I ask the king for help. Give me success and help me to be pleasing to the king.