“Let your ear now be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant which I am praying before you now, day and night…”
It is a interesting image that Nehemiah uses in the middle of the opening prayer of his memoir. Asking God to have his eyes open to hear a prayer makes us think that Nehemiah was being a bit dramatic. Until we think about prayer as conversation. Then we understand exactly what Nehemiah was saying.
Actually, we understand a number of things that Nehemiah might have been saying.
“God, see me. I’m here, I’m invisible. I want you to look closely. In my insecurity, in my insignificance, as I’m talking to you, would you please notice me?”
“God, look at me. While I’m talking to you, don’t be distracted by all the other people talking to you. Don’t be caught up in pretending to hear but looking at the news or status updates or pictures of cats.”
“God, don’t turn away from me. This really matters. I’m here all the time, I know, but I don’t think I could handle it if I knew you were turning away.”
“God, don’t sleep. I’m sure that you might be sleepy, like I would be if I were you. But please, this matters.”
I’m not sure which of these reflects Nehemiah’s heart. But I’m pretty sure that I’ve meant all of them from time to time. Maybe you have, too. We so much want God to hear us. We want the answers. But I think that we want God to see us. Being seen, being recognized is important to people living in a visual culture. It’s why we have so many pictures of ourselves.
We just want to be sure God has a picture of us, too.