Today is our National Day Of Prayer and I am posting a few thoughts about this, my favorite activity in the Kingdom. I enjoy praying more than preaching. I am transformed more through prayer than singing. At the risk of angering my hyper-evangelist friends, I engage more in prayer than I do sharing my faith with others. Prayer, in its simplest form, is spending time with God. Communicating verbally, listening spiritually and discerning intuitively. Without prayer we are always operating in some degree of our own wisdom and power which is why I place prayer at the very top of my list of spiritual practices. Praying is what amplifies every other activity in the Christian’s life. Yes, prayer is the grand connector of the Christian with his or her God.
Stifled prayers are the aim of the devil. He does not mind so much that you think upon Christ or remain aware of your deep need of a touch from Him… but the enemy will fight you to no end in order to prevent you from calling out to Jesus. He has several mute buttons that he pushes in your life with the goal of silencing your cries to God. He knows if he can keep you running around your troubles in your mind, feeling the deep weight in your heart, calculating the impossible odds in your intellect then he will eventually wear you down with defeat and hopelessness. He also knows that, should you continue to cry out to your Savior, you will be heard and answered with some divine response which will destroy his plans for you.
“And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” – Mark 10:48
Bartimaeus was a sightless beggar who was sitting on a roadside one day when a crowd of people were passing by with Jesus in the center of them. He had heard of this maverick rabbi from Galilee and how he had power to heal. Some said that this Jesus was the Messiah and Bartimaeus found himself unwilling to be passed by when someone said that Jesus was drawing near that day. He lifted his pitiful voice until his ceaseless shouts drew the ire of all who gathered there. They scowled at this nuisance of a man, filthy and blind, clearly unworthy of any attention from the Healer as He made His way through Jericho.
“Shut up, Bartimaeus. He has no time for you.”
“He’s a King and you’re a beggar. Don’t you know your place, you presumptuous man?”
“You’re ruining the moment, Bart. This is an honor for our city and a certain decorum is expected from us. You sound so frenzied and desperate. Please be quiet. You are embarrassing yourself…and us.”
Mute buttons: forces at work to stop needy people like Bartimaeus (and you, and me) from continuing to lift up our voices to God. Sometimes these forces are outside of us like the people surrounding that blind beggar 2,000 years ago. Many times, those forces are within that stifle our prayers. Shame. Fear. Guilt. Unworthiness. Disbelief. Each time we enter into the activity of prayer one of two things will be forefront in our motivation: our presumed merit or God’s promised grace. When our presumed merit is the place that we plant the flag of our confidence, we are constantly scanning the terrain of our lives to ensure that we have done well enough and have a commendation to approach God so that we can dialogue confidently with Him. Eventually, however, the day will come when we have failed and the dust from our implosion obscures the face of God and we fall silent because we know in those moments we are utterly unworthy to enter His presence. Yet if we will approach God every time we come to Him in prayer with the understanding that is always His grace that invites us and makes our prayers acceptable, we will never run the risk of those inward mute-buttons cutting off our voices. Shame has no place in the presence of such a gracious God. Unworthiness can be acknowledged as valid but, equally valid, is the covenant God makes with us based on the merits of His Son. Truth be known, we are as welcome in Father’s presence as is His one and only Son. Our guilt is gone through the payment of Jesus’ blood and the practical ramification of that is an unimpeded invitation to come before the throne of grace whenever we need to. On the remote control of God’s grace there is no mute button.
Bartimaeus would not be silenced that day and his cries to Jesus grew in their intensity. The Master stopped the entire throng and called the beggar forth to ask him what He desired. Bartimaeus asked to be made sighted again and a few seconds later it was granted him. God worked through the poor man’s senses that day: he heard, he cried out and then he saw. Jesus Christ is still working like that today. He takes care of the impossible. Your job is to let nothing silence you – not the ignorant words of people around you, not an inaccurate sense of shame and not the fear of disappointment of Jesus drawing out your cries for another day and to a higher level of desperation. Again, your job is to cry out to Him. Let nothing mute your voice today. Breakthroughs await those who were formally beggars.