The story of the blind beggar, found in Luke 18 is one that has recently had a powerful impact on my attitude toward prayer.
The healing of Bartimaeus is the final miracle Jesus performed during His time on earth. I think it is profound that this miracle involved bringing sight to the blind. Jesus went to the cross soon after this miracle, and through His sacrifice, there has brought sight to all those who have received His great salvation and accepted Him as Savior.
During the time Jesus walked on earth, there were a lot of blind people.
Blindness was a common ailment due to the lack of medical knowledge and poor hygiene. The Jewish people believed blindness was a punishment from God for sin, therefore those who were blind were considered sinful and not worthy of pity or help. The Jews believed they were receiving the punishment they deserved, and so it would be wrong to help them in anyway. This is why blind people are often seen as destitute beggars in the Bible accounts. Blind people were considered the lowest of the low.
If we think of how this blind man, blind Bartimaeus, must have felt about himself, it is quite devastating. He would have considered himself under the judgment of God. He would have felt that God was displeased with him and so struck him blind; he would have thought of himself as under God’s judgment, and because of this, had been reduced to total poverty and degradation.
But! When he hears Jesus is passing by, he begins to scream at Him, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” The word used to describe how this man screamed at Jesus is often a word used to describe how demon possessed people shouted. He shouted at the top of his lungs, like a crazy person in order to get Jesus’ attention. He shouted so loud and insanely, that those around him, the very Jews who considered him a sinner and rightfully blind, told him to be quiet and to stop making a scene.
There are two lessons that struck me from this part of the story.
If someone is shouting desperately for Jesus, no matter who they are or what they have done or how we view them, there is never a time for us to tell them to be quiet.
Thank God, blind Bartimaeus had the faith and courage to keep shouting through the negative voices around him, so that his shouts reached the ears of Jesus.
The second thing I learned is that, no matter what the voices around you or indeed the voices of your own self-condemning thoughts are saying, never let anything stop you from crying out to God with your needs. If you or anybody else is saying you are too sinful or unworthy, remind yourself that it does not matter about what you have done; it matters only that Jesus has given you the gift of righteousness and told you to come boldly into His throne room. Like blind Bartimaeus, keep shouting! Don’t let anything push your prayers to the side, because like this story shows us, there is one person who is always listening; one person who is never too busy; one person who has the power to meet your need, and that, of course, is Jesus.
As blind Bartimaeus continues to shout, Jesus hears his cries and asks for him to be brought over.
He asks Bartimaeus, “What can I do for you?” What a wonderful question to be asked by Jesus. Bartimaeus asks for his sight, and Jesus immediately gives it to him. Through all the voices telling him to be quiet, that he doesn’t count, that he should sit back down and stay in the destitution he is in, Bartimaeus kept shouting, like a demon possessed person. And Jesus heard him and healed him! Jesus is full of compassion and mercy, and this story is included in the New Testament to encourage us to pray like Bartimaeus.
Perhaps we don’t have a crowd shouting at us to tell us to be quiet. But we have distractions enough. We have phones and iPads, children and friends, busy lives and long hours at work, but let me encourage you not to let the crowds of your life shut you up. Don’t forget the power of Jesus; He is “Jesus, son of David” the Messiah, the one who has the power to move in your life and meet your needs. But are you asking? Or are you allowing the crowds and distractions of your life to make you mute?
Our access to God was won for us by Jesus’ great sacrifice; we don’t have to fight for it in the same way Bartimaeus did, but I hope the ease with which we can approach God does not make us complacent. Let’s be tenacious in our prayer life the way Bartimaeus was. The more I learn about prayer, the more I realize tenacity and consistency moves God. So, let’s not have a half-baked prayer life. Let’s not be muted by the loudness of our lives. Let’s pray with boldness, knowing the goodness and grace of the God we are praying to and also knowing that our cries are never an annoyance to Him, but that He welcomes our prayers and meets our needs. What a wonderful God we serve!