“ 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)
How is your prayer life? It’s a legitimate question. I’m your Pastor and I care about you. I ought to know, how is your prayer life? Are you actively seeking God, calling out for wisdom and the strength to overcome the stuff that the world is throwing at us all? And are you seeing answers to those prayers? Are you on fire with prayer? Are you one of those people who when you see a person in need do you naturally and instantly begin to pray?
Seriously now, how is your prayer life? Is your flame about to extinguish? Have you grown weary or discouraged? Have you succumbed to those doubts that rise when your prayers seem to do little or seemingly go unanswered? Do you tend to walk if not run the other way when you hear the requests for prayer because you’re pretty sure that your prayer isn’t going to matter?
It’s not that you haven’t tried to pray. You’ve prayed in the past for your sick friends and relatives and nothing seemed to come of it. They either got better or over what was bothering them in about the same time as one would expect or maybe they died and became your reason for not praying like you used to.
It might surprise you that scientists and physicians actually have done studies to see if prayer makes any difference, at all, in the healing process. They actually have done double blind truly scientific studies!
Why on earth would they bother? An atheist may ask. Cynically one might think they just want to lay the matter to rest and prove pills and operations not words or unseen forces heal people. But those who are in the healing professions generally are there because they actually care about people. And they want them to get better. And if praying can be scientifically proven to help then they are for it.
In one such study from the 1980’s that I came across just recently: A group of about 400 heart patients were asked to take part in the double blind study. Some of the group would be randomly and blindly be prayed for by Christians who were known to be devoted followers of Christ that prayed daily, did devotions, etc. Their group was called the IP group of patients.
The study says, “The IP group consisted of 192 patients, and the control group of 201. (So slightly more not being prayed for). Analyses revealed no significant statistical differences between the health of the two groups upon admission. “Thus it was concluded that the two groups were statistically inseparable and that results from the analysis of the effects of [IP] would be valid.” ( Journal of the American Medical Association on January 20, 1989)
While both control groups knew they were in the study neither group knew if they were being prayed for nor did they know the intercessors nor did the intercessors know who they were praying for nor I would imagine were they informed that there were others not being prayed for. They were just asked to pray for, things like rapid recovery, no complications etc. for specific people and 3-7 intercessors prayed each day during the control period.
In other words the study was controlled to determine if prayer did anything to improve patient outcome.
Dr. Byrd concluded that the “ data suggest that [IP] … has a beneficial therapeutic effect in patients admitted to a CCU.”( Journal of the American Medical Association on January 20, 1989) “The results demonstrated that patients who were prayed for suffered “less congestive heart failure, required less diuretic and antibiotic therapy, had fewer episodes of pneumonia, had fewer cardiac arrests, and were less frequently intubated and ventilated.” (Rich Deem, GodandScience.org)
Calling upon the name of the LORD for healing is the normal course of events in third world countries where trained medical staff, hospitals and pharmaceuticals are few and often out of the average persons reach. And I can tell you from experience prayer works! We know this for sure from eye-witness reports like the one we’ll look at in today’s passage of HIStory.
So if you have your bible with you turn to Mark 10:46-52 and let’s read some eye witness testimony that opened eyes and induced faith.
“ 46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” (Mark 10:46-52 (NIV)
Each gospel speaks about these events differently but only Mark puts a name to the man who was blind. And even then we only get to know this man by his father’s names. Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus). It was eye-witness testimony. Mark also tells us where the events took place so we would know that it wasn’t simply an object lesson but a historical event in a specific place. The venue wasn’t a healing service arranged by a traveling evangelist. In fact Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem and shortly there-after to the cross. But as He left Jericho there beside the road was an all too common sight. People who for no fault of their own must call upon the compassion of humanity to meet their basic necessities. Deuteronomy 15:11says, “11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
“In Greek and Roman cultures, “imperfect” infants were put out to die, and disabled adults were left to fend for themselves and often mocked to boot. In Jewish culture, in contrast, killing an infant for any reason constitutes murder,8 and the Torah specifically prohibits cursing the deaf or putting a stumbling block before the blind” (http://www.uscj.org/JewishLivingandLearning/SocialAction/Accessibility/MishanehHaBriyyotANewJewishApproachtoDisabilities.aspx)
We saw this scene a thousand times over throughout Kenya. Whether it was women whose arms hadn’t grown or missing legs, blind folks out begging for food. And then there were the children. Dirty and unkempt, half clothed, orphans whose parents died of aids or couldn’t feed themselves never mind their kids so they were begging. And then there were the glue sniffers that would not hesitate to come right up to the car and reach into window for whatever they could get. Each one in desperate need, and way too many to even begin to address the problem with what little we had.
Bartimaeus was no different in that regard. Being blind, whether fully or not, as is debated among the scholars, meant Bart had little to offer in exchange for his daily bread. He was reduced to taking his outer cloak, spreading it out and sitting around waiting for someone to come along and show some mercy.
But that day his acute hearing recognized a processional that was heading for the Passover festival. It was a really good day to be a blind beggar as the people were usually in a good mood when heading to festival and he would soon get far more than he imagined.
It’s a wonderful and simple prayer isn’t it? It is the prayer of salvation that every human being needs to cry out. For you and I are no different when it comes to needing the Saviour. Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner! It is especially wonderful for intercessors to pray on behalf of others. Jesus, Messiah, have mercy on that person who is clearly in need. No long and complicated, chest beating or pompous prayers to recite. It just gets to the heart of the issue. LORD, I can’t do it without You! Have mercy!
The excited disciples thought they were ready for the Kingdom, earlier in our passage they even argued who should get the seats of honour and power. And as they were heading to Jerusalem for the Passover they were on a tight schedule. No time for yet another beggar. Jesus was way too important a man to stop and chat to someone who couldn’t even see him as far as they were concerned. Some in the crowd tried to hush the blind beggar.
But nothing was going to stop Bart. Like the widow who wore down the judge Bart’s persistence was about to pay off. He cried all the louder, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me”. He dared to call the master by name!
It is somewhat doubtful that being blind he would have had enough schooling to know that He was calling Jesus by His Messianic title, “Son of David”. Yet Jewish culture certainly didn’t prevent him from hearing and memorizing the Torah, in fact it encouraged him. Did he actually know what he was saying as he called upon the son of David for mercy? And yet Bart does it at least twice and maybe even more than what was recorded for us by Mark. And he doesn’t give up until he sure he has been heard. That’s how you seize the opportunity in prayer. You don’t pray one time and then give up you keep praying until you are sure Jesus has heard you. Then you wait for the answer.
When Jesus told the disciples to call Bart over it also made an impact on them. Unlike celebrities who go for popularity and prestige, Jesus showed that He came to serve. He made time for those in need but oddly enough He didn’t have the time of day for those who were secure in their own fortunes. 49 …So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”
Suddenly it was his lucky day as the saying goes. Bart had an audience with the King of kings. His call was no longer on hold. And don’t you just love his reaction to hearing the invitation.
Mark writes, “50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.” Bart was not going to miss this opportunity by taking time to collect the few shekels that laid upon his cloak. Fling! Off it goes. And Bart is on his feet and moving in Jesus direction.
Now most beggars want but one thing from everyone who stops long enough to listen. They want money. In fact someone offered to take a beggar in for a meal downtown but were told no I just need some money. Anything you can spare, just money.
And that attitude might have been the case for Bart too. He may have got up expecting a big hand out from someone who was so important as to have all these disciples following Him. But as Jesus asked him, 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Somehow this blind beggar knew to say, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
How did Bart know that Jesus was the one to ask for that sort of miracle? Surely he didn’t ask that mercy of everyone who stopped long enough to listen. Of course knowing human nature as I do, I know most people try not to stop long enough to listen anyway. Never mind asking what it is that the beggar wants. It is far easier to toss the coin in the hat than to spend the time to hear the beggars heart.
But Jesus isn’t like most people. He cuts to the chase. You asked for mercy, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Be specific. God is listening. Make the most of the opportunity. I suspect that the man could have asked for any legitimate thing and Jesus would have done it for him.
After all Jesus told His disciples: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7)
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9).
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:22). “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:16).
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 Jn. 5:14-15).
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 3:22).
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” (Mark 10:52 (NIV). “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
The eye-witness account tells us that having received his sight Bart followed Jesus down the road.
So how is your prayer life? What big ask would you lay on the Lord if He stood here this morning and called you to come?
- Can you think of a time when after several attempts you finally got it?
- Can you think of a time when you should have stopped after the first attempt but didn’t.
Read Mark 10:46-52 in several translations if possible.
- Outside which city di the events take place? (46)
- Why were Jesus and His disciples there? Where were they going?
- Was begging beside the road permitted back then? (46) How about today? (Kelowna’s new bylaw signs.)
- What did the blind man do? (47, 48) Why did they hush him?
- Was Jesus annoyed with Bartemaus like the disciples who hushed him? Why or why not? (49)
- What question did Jesus ask of Bartimaeus and why? (51) ( see also Psalm 146:8; Isaiah 29:18-19 ; Isaiah 29:23-24 ; Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 42:16-18; Matthew 11:5; 13:14-16; Luke 7:22)
- How would you answer that last question of Jesus?
- What is prayer?
“The following Heb. terms are rendered prayer: (1) Tepillâ, in general, supplication to God (Psalm 65:2; Psalm 80:4; Isaiah 1:15; Job 16:17; etc.); also intercession, supplication for another (2 Kings 19:4; Isaiah 37:4; Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:14). (2) Palal, to “judge,” and then “to interpose as umpire, mediator” (Genesis 20:7; Deut. 9:20; 1 Samuel 7:5; Job 42:8), with the general sense of prayer (Psalm 5:2; 1 Samuel 1:26; 2 Samuel 7:27; etc.). (3) ‘AEtar, “to burn incense,” therefore to pray to God (3), the prayers of the righteous being likened to incense (Rev. 5:8). (4) Lahash, to “whisper a prayer” uttered in a low voice (Isaiah 26:16). Lahash is a quiet whispering prayer (like the whispering forms of incantation in Isaiah 3:3); sorrow renders speechless in the long run; and a consciousness of sin crushes so completely that a man does not dare to address God aloud (cf. Isaiah 29:4).
The following Gk. terms are rendered prayer: (1) Deesis, prayer for particular benefits. (2) Proseuche, prayer in general, not restricted as respects its contents. (3) Enteuxis (1 Tim. 4:5), confiding access to God. In combination, deesis gives prominence to the expression of personal need; proseuche to the element of devotion; and enteuxis to that of childlike confidence, by representing prayer as the heart’s converse with God. (4) Euche, which occurs only once in the NT in the sense of a prayer (James 5:15), but in this noun and its verb, the notion of the vow—of the dedicated thing—is more commonly found than that of prayer. The two other occasions of the word (Acts 18:18; Acts 21:23) bear out this remark “(Trench, Synonyms of the N.T., 2:1).” (The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary.)
- How did Bartimaeus answer Jesus Question? (51)
- How did Bart know to ask Jesus for this?
- What did Bartimaeus do after Jesus healed him? (52)
- When you have prayed for one issue consistently and repeatedly what happened?
- What Big Ask would you have of Jesus if He called you to come and ask today?
- What connection is there between faith and answered prayer? (Mark 5:34; Matthew 9:22; 28-30; 15:28; Luke 7:50; 9:48; Psalm 33:9; Hebrews 11; James 2:14-26)