And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more . . . (Mark 10:48)
Why are we so easily put off in our prayers?
Why so ill prepared for the long distance course with God, left gasping for air after a few hurried petitions? How is it that discouragement sets in so quickly? We storm heaven's gates, but heaven rarely yields according to our plan. What we feel as God's resistance sends us into retreat, questioning, maybe even sulking.
Jesus once told his disciples a story, a story aimed at urging them to pray and never give up (Luke 18:1-8). He knew that they, and we, would need that kind of encouragement. We are prone quit crying out when everything around us tells us we're wasting our time.
Forrest and Leon
You probably remember the fictional character Forrest Gump, the lead role in the 1994 film by the same name. By the mysterious providence of God (my take on the story) Forrest Gump became a kick returner for the University of Alabama football team. A teammate would catch the kick, hand the ball to Forrest, and shout the familiar "Run, Forrest, Run."
And run he did. He not only ran to the end zone, he ran through the end zone and out of the stadium. Eventually the marching band made a large sign: "Stop Forrest." He didn't know when to stop; left to himself he'd just keep running.
Contrast the real life football player Leon Lett, a defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys in Super bowl XXVII. Lett recovered a fumble and made a long run down field, seemingly home-free and certain to score. But before getting to the end zone he started to 'hot-dog,' holding the ball aloft in an early celebration. That's when the Bill's Don Beebe came from behind and knocked the ball from his hands.
No touchdown for Leon. He should have run a bit harder for just a bit longer.
As Jesus entered Jericho and blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus began to cry out to him, calling him "Son of David," pleading for mercy. His repeated shouting bothered the people around him. He was making a scene. It was annoying, embarrassing. They rebuked him. They told him to shut up.
Bartimaeus responded to their rebuke by crying out all the more. More urgency. Louder. This man would not be easily put off. With Jesus so close, with the possibility of sight a shout away, he simply didn't know when to stop. He would not stop or be silenced.
What about you?
Where do you need the mercy of God in your life right now? Has something or someone silenced your prayers? Maybe you're begging mercy for someone you love - but they aren't changing. Nothing is changing. And so you've grown quiet, less expectant. Or maybe the noise around you is so thick you don't have any confidence that your voice is heard. What good does it do to keep calling out when your prayers evaporate in the crush of sound and busyness that surrounds you?
Learn from a blind beggar. Be stubborn in your prayers. Do not be easily silenced or discouraged. Call out all the more. The one to whom you call has more for you than you know right now.
So keep praying.
Prayer: Grant us grace, O God, to be bold in our prayers, calling to you all the more when so many things around us tell us to quit. Our need is great, and so is your power, so we look to you as our hope and help. This very day we call to you again, all the more, through Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Mark H. Crumpler
Pastor for Worship and Formation