“Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.” Nehemiah 1:10
I think I’ve told you all before that my parents were Seventh-day Adventist Church School teachers. Part of what this meant was that when I went to school, for the first eight years of my formal education, Mom and Dad were my teachers.
When I’ve told people this many times the response has been, “I’m so glad my parents weren’t my teachers.” Well, the more I think about it, while I understand at least some of the reasons why a person might want teachers other than their parents, my parents were wonderful teachers and I’m very grateful to have had them as my teachers.
That being said, not every part of the being in their classroom was ideal. I think it would be hard for a teacher-parent to make sure that they were totally fair in their treatment of their own children when they were part of their classroom. My father especially seemed to exhibit some small inclination to prioritize the needs of other students before those of his children. Just to be clear, my father was very careful to not play favorites with any of his students but when it came to myself and my brothers, when we were his students, at times it seemed that it was much easier for other students to get his attention than it was for us.
So we developed a technique for breaking through the barriers that had caused him to not hear the voices of his own children. We called him Mr. Clayburn.
The response was actually quite funny. It seems that the sound of our familiar, and much loved, voices, addressing him in such formal and distant terms was a slight shock to his system. He would look at us with incredulity, his mouth would hang open, his breath would come out in time gasps, and for several seconds as he would make sure that we were actually his child and not one of his other students, and then he would say, “I’m not Mr. Clayburn to you. You call me Dad.”
To this we’d usually say, “I’ve been standing right beside you for the last two minutes saying that and you never answered. When I called you Mr. Clayburn you answered the first time.”
Sometimes, in the classroom, my father needed to be reminded that his boys, just like all the other kids, were his students too. Sometimes it was good to remind ourselves of that fact as well
In our praying, sometimes the right thing to do is to remind God who we are to him. It’s not that he’s forgotten; God never forgets. Sometimes it’s we who need to be reminded and when we tell God it affirms to us who we are to him. And sometimes, for reasons scripture never explains, our verbalizing things to God, that we know he already knows, open doors with God that would have otherwise remained closed.
Nehemiah, in his prayer, reminded God that the children of Israel were his servants, his people, the objects of his redemption, the recipients of his power. The implications of these reality must have echoed and re-echoed in his own heart. We need to follow Nehemiah’s example and remind God, and ourselves, who we are to him. Like Nehemiah we might find the response miraculous.