Remember me with favor, O my God.Nehemiah 13:31b
Some people think this sounds self-serving, that Nehemiah is concerned that God is going to forget him and not reward him adequately. But that is the wrong way to read this prayer. What he is doing is recognizing his own frailty and his own tendency to self-deception. He is saying in effect,
Lord, I have done all this, but you may see it differently than I. You may see something in me that would cause you to blot this all out of your book. If you feel that way, show it to me. That is what he is asking.
It is really the same prayer that David prayed at the end of the much-loved Psalm 139. It is a great psalm about how we are fearfully and wonderfully made; how well God knows us; our sitting and our rising; that if we take the wings of the morning and travel to the uttermost parts of the earth, still God is there; how He watches over us; how He guards us and keeps us and knows our thoughts. Then it ends with this wonderful prayer,
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). That is a wonderfully honest prayer. It is saying,
Lord, I do not know myself very well. I deceive myself easily. I think I am doing fine, but you may see a lot of things that are terribly wrong with what I am doing. So Lord, search me and know me and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me to the point where I can see that, too. That is what the psalmist is asking.
And that is what Nehemiah is praying here. It is a great prayer for all of us. God has placed us in a critical moment of human history. The voices of all the great leaders of the past are silent, as far as this generation is concerned. Who is going to reach the drug addicts? Who is going to reach those who are trying to climb the ladder of success, seeking to satisfy themselves by material gain and possessions? Who is going to reach the hundreds of thousands of spiritually bankrupt people all around us? They do not come to church. Who is going to talk to them? God has called us to a ministry to reach out to them. And we need God's help in doing so.
Remember me with favor, O my God.
How prone are we to self-deception? Are we really able to be honest with ourselves as we talk with God? Do we remember daily the true source of our righteousness?