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persistence in prayer


They shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Matthew 20:29

Jesus was walking, talking, and teaching as was customary in Palestine for a Rabbi to teach as well as walk with their followers. Christ’s “students” were trying ever-so-hard to listen, straining their ears to hear what Jesus was saying, as two blind men were crying and pleading for Jesus’ attention.

These beggars were being disruptive and distracting.

The crowd was frustrated and told them to be quiet. There was no space in this paradigm for these men to have access to Jesus. But that did not restrain them. While the crowd tried to silence their pleas, they persisted. Rather than back off, they cried out louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Can you imagine?

Have you ever been so desperate as to lose all sense of your status and place in society, to shed all decorum and comportment, that you would be willing to cry out, above the shushing crowd, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”?

What a sight that must of have been! I’ve been trying to imagine it in our post-modern, year-2023, world. The underprivileged or the over-privileged, stepping out of their subsequent roles, and being so desperate for Jesus that they would be willing to become the object of annoyance or shame from society. These two blind men, when given even the slightest hope of contact with the Messiah, did not sit back in unspoken, passive hope that Jesus would see them and notice them, but they cried out persistently for the attention of the Son of David. Would I be willing to do the same if I thought there might be a chance that Jesus could change my life?

While the crowd rebuked, Jesus stopped. He paused. He listened. He noticed. And he called them to come.

“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. Matthew 20:32

Such a fascinating question: What do you want me to do for you?

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? “I’m blind. What do you think I want you to do for me?”

Blindness in that time and context relegated these men to a life of poverty. There were no government programs or schools for the blind, benefits or books written in braille, no therapies or medical technologies that a blind person could access in order to help them integrate into society. They had nothing.

Their persistence was understandable. And yet, Jesus still asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Matthew 20:33

They stated what they wanted- clearly and simply. There was no pause, no trying to find the right words, no guilt or shame.

They wanted to see.

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:34

The blind men were so desperate that they had no problem causing a disturbance. They knew Jesus could heal them, and they couldn’t remain silent. When Jesus asked them what they wanted, he already knew, but he wanted them to declare it. Rather than hold this longing in their hearts and minds, Jesus’ question pushed them to speak out loud, and subsequently declare, that Jesus was the true Messiah, the only person who could meet this particular need. Their cries were not for money, which they could get from any passerby, but their cries were for healing, which could only come from a Savior.

And not just healing in the broad sense, but the request was very specific.  There was no ambiguity. They didn’t just ask Jesus to heal them; they were direct and said they wanted their sight.

Then, Jesus had compassion on them. Jesus looked at these two blind men, and his heart was moved. Out of compassion, Jesus touched them. He didn’t lay a hand on their heads or shoulders or hold their hands, but rather, he touched them where their need was – he touched their eyes, and they received their sight.

His compassion touched them at their point of need.

The persistence of these two blind men opened the opportunity for Christ to meet them – in their darkness – and heal them in a very specific and meaningful way. I suppose any healing from Christ would be meaningful, but that Jesus’ touch was so intentional, so directly on the point of pain, makes this miracle incredibly significant to the ones who received it.

As I’ve contemplated this story, I find myself encouraged to persist in prayer. To continue to reach out, cry out, and shout out as loudly as I can, to the One who can heal…to the one who can place his hands on the wounds of my life, and bring the restoration, the healing and the completeness that I need.

I think that we stop too soon in our prayers. I think we get discouraged when it seems that Jesus cannot hear us above the crowd. And I wonder if we just grow weary of asking. But what I believe this story tells us is that Jesus’ heart is for us, and his compassion moves us to him.

I cannot make a guarantee to anyone that if you just pray more persistently, the blind will see, the dead will rise, and the sick will be healed, but I can promise that the more we persist in our pursuit of Jesus – Son of David, Messiah and Savior – he will be there, and he will touch us. There is no question about that. His healing runs far deeper than our physical pains, wounds and disabilities. His healing makes us whole from the inside out.

I suppose we are all very much the two blind men in this miraculous story. However, our blindness is not physical, and our desperate pleas are not that we would be able to see trees and faces, animals and sky. But the healing we need is for the spiritual darkness to be lifted and our hearts to fully see Christ as our Savior. This is healing from the inside out. This is truly seeing. And this comes through our persistent prayers.

A mouth open in unceasing prayer will result in open eyes that see faith clearly. So, pray in the darkness, even if there seems to be no hope of light. When God, who is light, moves a poor sinner to plead and cry out with the commitment to continue until the blessing comes, he doesn’t even consider disregarding that poor crying heart. Perseverance in prayer is a sure sign that the day of opening the eyes of the blind is near.

Charles H. Spurgeon, “Life in Christ: Lessons from Our Lord’s Miracles and Parables”

Pray. Pray. And keep on praying.

Be persistent in prayer.

Trust God with the outcome.

His compassion will touch you, too, at your point of need.

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