Sowing and Reaping Articles

Prayer: An Invitation To Ask

By Larry Guido

Not all illnesses have signs and symptoms that are obvious. There are some illnesses, however, that are more visible than others. Blindness is one of them. Individuals who have serious problems with their vision usually need to depend on others to guide and guard them as they travel through life. 

Mark’s Gospel has an interesting story about a blind man. As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd was following them. Bartimaeus, the blind man in the story, was sitting by the side of the road, begging. As Jesus approached him, Bartimaeus called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He not only knew about Jesus as a person, was aware that He had healed others but significantly and openly recognized Him as the “Son of David,” the Messiah!

“Quiet,” roared the crowd, as they rebuked him. But, he would not be silenced and shouted even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

Jesus stopped, stood silently for a moment, and then said, “Call him!” So they did. And, Bartimaeus got so excited that he threw off his cloak, jumped to his feet, and ran to Jesus. 

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. 

“Rabbi,” Bartimaeus said, “I want to see!” He knew exactly what he wanted and who had the power to grant his request.

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you!” And immediately Bartimaeus received his sight and followed Jesus along with the crowd. 

I find the way that Jesus ministered to the needs of others intriguing. Recall, for example, the “woman at the well.” Jesus knew her sordid past, yet gave her exactly what she needed without her specifically asking for His help. However, in this encounter with Bartimaeus, Jesus asked, “What do you want?” Why this difference? 

Because Jesus wanted to teach Bartimaeus, and us, an important lesson: It’s OK to ask for help! Especially God’s help! Perhaps this can be stated more clearly:  it is important to be very specific when we ask for God’s help – the important lesson Jesus wanted to teach us in this story!  

We wrongly assume that God will meet our needs without our even asking Him to do so. We seem to develop a “why bother to ask” attitude toward the Lord since He “knows what we need before we ask.” We think, “Well if He knows everything about me, especially my needs, why does He not do something about them? Why must I ask?” 

No doubt it is because He wants us to admit – to Him as well as to ourselves and others – our need for and dependence upon Him for everything. Asking reveals our vulnerability, our insufficiencies, our inadequacies, our shortcomings, our need for Him to be present and available to protect us, to provide for us, and to empower us to live the life He has called us to live. 

Consider, also, what James said, “You have not because you do not ask God,” and the words of Jesus, as well, when He said, “Everyone who asks receives.” (James 4:2; Matthew 7:8) Many of the teachings of Jesus are not only about asking, but about being persistent, consistent, specific, bold, and honest. “What do you want” left no doubt that Jesus expected Bartimaeus and us, His followers, to “say what you want!”

There is one interesting segment in this story that is often overlooked. “Many rebuked him and asked him to be silent.” No doubt the disciples were among that group. But, it didn’t matter to Bartimaeus. He had a need, and even though others did not join him in his request, He continued to plead and pressure Jesus to hear him. Bartimaeus struggled, alone and rejected by others in faith, believing that Jesus could and would hear and heal him! He persisted and continued shouting, and God heard him and blessed him and healed him. The lesson for us in this section of the story is that even if others do not join with us in prayer for our needs, we must continue to persist and prevail! If the Lord heard and healed Bartimaeus, He will do the same for us. God has no favorites!

Is it “I have not because I do not ask God?” or is it “I still ask specifically, faithfully and persistently until I have received abundantly.”