The Bible gives us lots of examples of prayer prayers of praise and of desperation; prayers of hope and of request. The Bible commands us to pray because God is honored when we turn to Him for the help only He can give. And yet, we struggle with prayer.
I want to share with you a little picture of prayer from the Gospel of Matthew 9:2 that has encouraged me. This verse is found in the marvelous story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man: “And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven” (ESV).
There are two striking things about this verse the most notable is the fact that Jesus, before he heals this paralyzed man, forgives his sins. But I want to focus on the other striking thing in this verse. Did you notice that it says Jesus saw their faith, but he spoke to the paralytic and forgave him his sin?
Jesus saw these friends, full of hope, who brought their dear paralyzed friend to Jesus. The other Gospels record that these friends actually dug a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was so that they could lower their friend on his bed into the crowded house where Jesus was. These friends had a faith, a trust in Jesus that he alone could help their friend. And Jesus sees the faith of these friends and did even more than they could hope for he healed their friend in both body and spirit.
Quite simply, what these men are doing physically is what we do in prayer all the time. If you are a Christian, I know that you pray. And when you pray for someone, you are bearing them to God and asking God to work in them, just like the friends who carried the paralyzed man to Jesus. God will often answer your prayer for that person, even if that person doesn’t ask, and maybe doesn’t even believe in God. What God is doing is seeing your faith, and answering your prayer for the benefit of another.
I find this quite encouraging, as well as a helpful mental picture of prayer. Like the friends of the paralyzed man, I am bearing people to Jesus in prayer, asking boldly for God to help them.
I see from this text that Jesus notices what I’m doing, even as he noticed this man and his friends. And Jesus answers.
Can you think of people in your life that are in a desperate situation like this paralyzed man? Take him or her to Jesus in prayer.