Remember me, O my God, for good! (Nehemiah 13:31)
There are many great prayers preserved in holy writ from men like Moses, David, Daniel, the prophets and the apostle Paul. Jesus prayed often to His Father teaching His disciples the nature of approaching the throne of God with grace and humility. The prayer of Jabez is found in the midst of a long genealogy that would be missed if the reader did not take careful note of what is said of the sons of Judah. One of the great books of the Old Testament is the story of a man born and raised in the land of Babylon who became the cup-bearer for a Persian king that would change the face of Israel’s history forever. Nehemiah, the son of Hachaliah, took on a task of huge proportion to accomplish something not for himself or the people but for the glory of God. The walls of Jerusalem lay in ruin and no one seemed to care. He took upon his own heart to have the courage to begin the building, face the opposition and accomplish in fifty-two days the establishment of the city of Jerusalem its walls and gates. Nehemiah was a leader extraordinaire. He had a gift for leading men. His spirit helped others see the potential in themselves. What set Nehemiah apart from others was not something he was born with as natural talent, or his stature or the depth of his wisdom so far as human wisdom would dictate. The final words of the book of Nehemiah are where the character of Nehemiah is found. He had a deep and personal relationship with the Lord God. Seven words form a prayer of love, diligence, courage, faith, hope, and promise. There was nothing arrogant about Nehemiah. He asked for the Lord to remember him and to bless his life for the good he could accomplish for the glory of his heavenly Father. Building the walls of Jerusalem was not about mortar and stone. It was about the city of God. Nehemiah was filled with sorrow because the place where God possessed the people was a run-down, broken city with burned gates and broken walls. He did everything within his power to change the city and united a people under the banner of the grace of God.
Adam Clarke writes, “Of Nehemiah, the Jews speak as one of the greatest men of their nation. His concern for his country, manifested by such unequivocal marks, entitles him to the character of the first patriot that ever lived. In the course of the Divine providence, he was a captive in Babylon; but there his excellences were so apparent, that he was chosen by the Persian king to fill an office the most respectable and the most confidential in the whole court. Here he lived in ease and affluence; he lacked no manner of thing that was good; and here he might have continued to live, in the same affluence and in the same confidence: but he could enjoy neither, so long as his people were distressed, the sepulchers of his father’s trodden underfoot, the altars of his God overturned, and his worship either totally neglected or corrupted. He sought the peace of Jerusalem; he prayed to God for it; and was willing to sacrifice wealth, ease, and safety, and even life itself, if he might be the instrument of restoring the desolation’s of Israel. And God, who saw the desire of his heart, and knew the excellencies with which he had endowed him, granted his request, and gave him the high honor of restoring the desolated city of his ancestors, and the pure worship of their God.”
The work of Nehemiah continues today for those with the courage to pray a small prayer of seven words. To implore the mind of God in the life of a humble servant like Nehemiah and to invite the presence of the Lord to dwell in the heart of a man who only wanted to bring glory to the Father; this is a story that resonates within the city of God as the church of Christ needs Nehemiah’s to rise up and build the kingdom of God to its eternal glory. Men and women who will pray for God to remember them for good in the work of teaching the lost the saving grace of Christ, building up the church to worship and be evangelistic in the measures of worship, teaching and doctrine and to rebuild the walls of God’s people so the world can see the glory of the Lord in the body of Christ. “Remember me, O my God, for good so that others can see You living in me” is a prayer where the heart is devoted to doing all that is possible to build the walls of the kingdom of Christ. There is much work to be done. Jesus reminds us the fields are white to harvest and workers are needed to go into the field. The prayer of Nehemiah is an expression of duty of the part of a man willing to roll up his sleeves and get busy about the work and to invite the grace of God to bless the efforts of the church in reaching the lost. There were many people living in Jerusalem at the time Nehemiah came to town but no one was working or concerned about the fallen walls and burned gates. They had not been praying the seven-word prayer. When Nehemiah came, everyone learned to pray and the work was accomplished. What do you pray?