A Practicum in Healing Prayer

Our Rabbi, Jesus, humbly enters a chaotic scene involving a community of disciples, religious leaders, a crowd, a family and a hurting child. Tenderly, he invites them to change their focus back to him and see how he heals the oppressed. He offers the same invitation to us today to learn his unforced rhythms of grace. Jesus’ presence is a healing presence. Through prayer, Jesus offers us his presence. When we bring another with us into the presence of Jesus, we join his mission and ministry of intercession, deliverance and healing. This day, do you hear Jesus say, “Bring the child to me”?

Mark 9:14-29 (NLT)
14 When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. 15 When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.
16 “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.
17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.
21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.
He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”
26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”
29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.

Questions to consider in your reflection and prayer:
1. As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.
2. What did you notice or observe in Jesus as he interacts with the crowd, the boy, the boy’s father, and/or the disciples? Is there anything about Jesus’ way of being that you are drawn to? Or which increases your love for him?
3. How have you experienced deafness or muteness is your own life? How has Jesus met you in it?
4. Reflect on how Jesus has delivered you. As you recall and remember, bring your story to Jesus and have a conversation with him. Is there more he reveals to you?

A Healing Touch

Today's story is a poignant, intimate interaction between a village community, a blind man and Jesus. One could wonder about why these villagers were so desperate for Jesus to heal this man. One could wonder about the way and means Jesus used to heal this man. One could wonder at the vulnerability and surrender of the blind man towards Jesus. One could wonder why Jesus would heal this man at the pleading of his village community and then instruct him not to go back there on his way home. There is much to wonder about in these few verses. Notice again today how Jesus meets you in this story. Notice where wonder arises; wonder that does not demand an explanation yet wonder that opens your soul to possibilities. Let Jesus meet you there.

Mark 8:22-26 (NLT)
When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”
24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”
25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you listened to or read the text, was there a word, phrase or image which stayed with you?  Be still with it for a while. Ask Jesus, is there more that he says to you?

How have you experienced Jesus taking you by the hand, leading you away from the crowd and providing a healing touch? Would you desire Jesus to do that for you now? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you need right now.

What has been your experience of restoration? Has it come it stages like the man in this story? Perhaps you want to journal your own story of Jesus restoring you.

Is there anyone who you want to bring to Jesus for his healing touch? Bring that person to Jesus in your prayer. 

When Jesus Comes to Us

We observed Ash Wednesday this week, a season when we intentionally remember to keep turning back to God. This week's text reminds us that it is God, through Jesus, who comes to us first before we even have the thought to turn and see him. It is the Holy Spirit at work in us, giving us the very thought to turn to God. What if we decided in this Lenten season to notice how Jesus keeps coming to us? What happens when Jesus comes to us?

Mark 1:29-34 NLT
After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. 31 So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.
32 That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Lord, what are you pointing at for me in this passage?
How might Jesus be coming to me at this very moment?
What is it like for Jesus to be beside you in your hard place, take your hand and help you up? Have a conversation with Jesus about this.
Do you have a story or stories of Jesus coming to you? Perhaps take time to remember them and record them in your journal.

Eagerly waiting

The Holy Spirit continually intercedes for us according to the will of God. The Spirit is ever present, helping us in our weakness, giving us greater hope and consolation. We eagerly wait for what we do not see...

Romans 8:22-27 HCSB

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.  And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

For Your Reflection and Prayer:

What did you hear as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

How might the Holy Spirit be interceding for you now? Ask to join the Spirit's prayer.

As we are in the season of waiting, how is it for you to wait for what you do not see? How is the Spirit with you in your waiting?