As I prepared this post today, I was thinking about what an honor it is for us to pray for others. How it helps us to think of others and place more importance on their wellbeing and comfort, above our own. And how sweet it is to talk with Jesus on their behalf, and then sit quietly and allow Him to minister to our hearts.
As I thought specifically about intercessory prayer (lifting others up for needs in their lives), I recalled the passage in the gospel of Mark where friends brought someone to Jesus. Remember that? (Mark 2:1-12)
These were pretty audacious people! They had picked up his "bed" (really his pallet of cloth or blankets), and walked to the place where they knew Jesus was teaching. But when they arrived, there were SO many people in the house and around it, that they knew they'd never get their paralyzed friend face-to-face with Jesus. I can imagine them standing on tiptoe, peering around for some way to slide amongst the people and get inside . . . but how could they do that, when they each were holding a corner of their friend's pallet?
Suddenly one of them must have had the epiphany to carefully carry their friend up the stairs to the roof. Remember, "up on the roof" was much more than just a song to people of this era. The roof was a common place to be; it was cooler, quieter, and refreshing in the evenings after the workday was done. So, step-by-step, they tried not to jostle their buddy as they carried him up the stairs. Then, they set him down gently and began to pull aside the reeds and thatch of the area directly over the spot where Jesus was teaching.
Imagine the amazement of the crowd around our Savior, as they looked up. Bits of thatch may have drifted down upon them as they gazed up and saw the paralyzed man being lowered by his friends into the presence of the Teacher. The rest of the story is probably very familiar to us. What peace must have filled the man's heart as he looked into Jesus' face! And Jesus told him that his sins were forgiven, and then told him to roll up his mat and walk!
AND HE DID!!
One of the hardest things we may do as believers is to pray for and/or with those who are critically ill. Or terminally ill. We hardly know what to say. What to ask for.
This came to mind, because we often "pray the scriptures" to our Father. . .
Lord, those friends who brought their paralyzed companion to you were such good friends. They carefully and tenderly brought their friend to you, showing both their love for him and their faith in You. In the same way, Lord, those of us who love and care for _________ bring him/her into the warmth and strength of your presence because we know that You love this person, too. We read in John 15 that You call us by name and we know that Your love never fails. We are joining You in loving this person and we ask for You to transform this life either by healing or by granting the opportunity to bring You glory. In Christ's name, Amen.
I hope this example may help as we try to pray with and minister to folks who are facing severe illness and even death.