Bartimaeus. He’d been blind a long time. Life without sight in first century Judea was hard. Not only were you suffering from your bodies weakness but you had the added pain of being deemed cursed; your blindness the direct result of your own or your parents sin. I have never some close to that situation but I imagine the most that I would hope for was the mercy of a passerby. Perhaps, some kind soul would buy you food or give you the change from their pocket.
Perhaps it was desperation but Bartimaeus had heard the rumours of Jesus and they had driven something deep within him. He had heard the stories of the lame walking, the leper healed and more importantly, the blind seeing. Broken bodies made whole again and the captives set free. Something in him stirred, a hope bubbled up that if Jesus came his way he too could be set free.
Then the day came. Jesus approached and he cried out, his voice disturbing the pilgrims and spiritual seekers who walked along with Jesus. The religious voices sought to silence him, but Jesus heard and called for Bartimaeus. Jesus words are poignant. He could see that Bartimaeus was blind, he could see his desperation, yet he asks,
‘What do you want me to do for you?’
‘I want to see,’ the obvious but faith filled reply.
He left with his sight restored.
An amazing story. Passed down through two thousand years and it still has its power.
I have thought about this story a lot in my life. When I have faced pain and difficulty or felt lost and trapped by things over which I have no control, Bartimaeus comes to mind. I think it is the simplicity of the exchange. Jesus asks what he wants and he tells him.
I have read books on prayer, filled with formula and strategy. I have been to seminars exhorting me to use ‘power unlocking words’ and heard delcarations that the position of your body somehow bends the ear of the Almighty, yet here is the most simple of encounters with Jesus that leads to life change and freedom for one desperate man.
Right now I want to see God changing people’s lives in Luton. I want to see people experience the love and acceptance of Jesus. I want to see transformation and restoration. When I pray I often complicate it. I litter my prayers with phrases like, ‘if it is your will’ and ‘I your time.’ The whole time I know what I want but I have become reticent in the asking, my prayers are hamstrung by some sacred polity that doesn’t want to offend God by asking him for what I really want.
Yet perhaps, like Jesus God is looking me in the face asking me what I want Him to for me.
How would our prayers change if we really asked God for what we want? What would you ask Him for? Perhaps more importantly what would our lives, and the lives of those we are amongst look like if God answered these honest prayers?
What do you want Him to do for you?