Sunday, March 16, 2008

What Do You Want?

I was recently reminded of a story from the Gospel of Mark about an encounter Jesus had with a blind man:

Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”
So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
“My rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”
And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road. (Mark 10: 46-62)

For me, one of the most remarkable questions in all of Scripture is that of Jesus asking, "What do you want me to do for you?" Even more remarkable was Bartimaeus' boldness in answering Jesus honestly.

I'm not sure that I would have been so bold back then, as evidenced by my often less than bold prayer requests now. Many times when I come to God in prayer, I find myself feeling selfish in asking for certain requests--i.e., requests that I deem as "wants" rather than "needs. But notice that Jesus did not ask Bartimaeus what he needed--rather, he asked what he wanted Jesus to do for him.

Note, too, Bartimaeus' response to being healed: He followed Jesus. The answered prayer not only brought about physical changes to Bartimaeus' life, but spiritual changes as well. He obviously had faith in Jesus' ability to heal before this encounter--Jesus said that it was his faith that had brought healing--but his healing caused him to not just believe in Jesus but actively follow Him.

This story reminds me that I too can approach God boldly in my prayers and not be afraid to ask for my heart's desires, in addition to my needs. Granted, that does not mean that every desire will be fulfilled in the way that I want it to or on my timetable. But He encourages us to approach His throne with confidence. Not so that we can get all our desires met, but rather so that we can follow Him more closely.

Whenever I read this story, I feel challenged to unleash all of my desires and dreams unabashedly before the Lord in prayer. Rather than look for the fulfillment of those desires to be the outcome I'm looking for, however, I need to recognize how telling Christ what I want draws me closer to Him.

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