It’s hard to feel helpless. As news swirls around us each day updating us with the latest restrictions or guidelines, perhaps we all might feel that way. After all- isn’t one of our main tasks right now- to stay put? As a doer who loves to go and go, the directive feels especially binding.
There are still many ways we can and should actively encourage our family in Christ and neighbors in the world- through texts, phone calls, delivering groceries, medicine, or meals, etc.. Yet for the large part, as the whole world stops in an unprecedented way- we find ourselves left with only our prayers.
Only prayers? Perhaps you’ve heard yourself say those words too.
Too often, I’ve found myself forgetting the incredible privilege it is to come before the throne of God in prayer for others.
Recently we read through the story of the paralyzed man lowered through the roof with our children, and Carine Mackenzie’s devotional thought at the end had me viewing it in a new light.
We’ve all probably heard this common Sunday School story or remember the flannel graphs. But picture it for a minute-the house was packed full. These four men, sure of the healing that would come for this man tried to push through the crowds, but were blocked. Undeterred they climbed up the roof and began ripping at the material to create a hole. I wonder if they had to make several attempts until they created one big enough so they could finally begin to lower the man through the air to the floor by Jesus. But there he finally laid, before the presence of the Christ. They had brought him before the healer.
Mark goes on to say, “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Sons your sins are forgiven. (Mk. 2:5)” Notice Jesus does not say that it was their actions, or who the men were that was impressive. It was their faith. This faith was not a faith made with confidence in their grand gestures, or in how good they were. In fact they must not have been too good, for they were not included in the “righteous” Pharisees who were sitting right next to Jesus (Mk. 2:6). No, their faith was in the knowledge of their helplessness. They needed to get to Jesus, whether it was through the door or through the roof.
We all are just as helpless. Perhaps we might feel it more when we are quarantined in our homes, but we are always just as desperate. We need to get to Jesus. And because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have a way to him. Just as the curtain ripped in the temple at Jesus’s death (Mt. 27:51), when we put our faith in his work on the cross the barrier of our sin has been removed! Now we can be united to Christ forever.
Yet we will never graduate from our helpless need of him. Because of Christ’s work, we can continue to come before the presence of the Lord through our mediator, Christ, with our prayers and cries for help. He tells us to (Heb. 4:16, Phil. 4:6). Not only that, but we can even carry our friends before him. This is no small act.
It may sound more gallant and bold to rip apart a roof and hold the weight of a stretcher before Jesus, but do you know- we do the exact same thing each time we bring another before the Lord in humility and pleading? Like those men, we can carry our friends, our family, our world before him.
Surely at times we do not only pray, but we are also never “only praying.” In our prayers we come in desperation before the one who can act. We acknowledge our inability, and his sovereign care. No, we don’t know what the outcome will be, but we know it’s held by him, so we pray.
While we are experiencing a time of reduced activity and feelings of restlessness, may we remember the marvel of the privilege we have in prayer. We can desperately climb roofs without even leaving our home. Let’s carry our neighbors, our elders, our leaders, our sick, our vulnerable, our overworked, our scared, our fragile and lay them before the Lord’s feet. We are helpless, but we can bring them before the one who is anything but.