In chapter 8 of Nehemiah, the people heard the Word. It is through the Word that we become aware of our sinful nature. 1 John 1 states...
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
It is also through the Word that we are reminded of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. John continues to write...
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
It is in chapter 9 of Nehemiah that the people pray. This followed the reading of the Word in chapter 8. It is them that the people confessed their sins. Nehemiah wrote...
1 Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them.
2 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.
The vast majority of Nehemiah 9 is a prayer "recapping" the history of Israel. Often times, prayers and speeches included the history because people did not have individual Bibles as we do today. This kept them aware of their history and where God had brought them from. We should also be thankful for the blessings that God has given us and remember the places He brought us from. Davis wrote in Psalms 40...
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
The Children of Israel were not a perfect people. The prayer read in Nehemiah 9 acknowledges this fact...
33 Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly:
34 Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them.
35 For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.
They were "failing" God throughout the Old Testament, but God is a patient, loving and caring God. They also praised God for His grace and mercy...
30 Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.
31 Nevertheless for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.
We are able to glean several Biblical principles from Nehemiah 9. We must understand that God is merciful and gracious, but we must be obedient to His Word understanding...
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Christians everywhere must find a place of repentance and seek God for direction. Christianity is not something that we just do, but it literally a life and death situation.
1 Peter 4 states (Amplified)...
17 For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?
18 And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the godless and wicked? [Prov. 11:31.]