I just couldn’t pray. I couldn’t pray because the pain ran deep and wild like muddy water rushing through a broken dam. I couldn’t pray because I was an intercessor; I’d never prayed for myself. I couldn’t pray because I couldn’t find the words to say. My mind was numb, my heart was shattered. I was a broken woman, paralyzed by the crushing burden I was bearing. And I had to keep it all to myself. I was the one others looked up to, the one with wise answers and a verse for every situation. If they saw me now, I would lose their friendship and respect. I became very good at wearing the mask and hiding my feelings. I fooled everyone.
Well, not quite everyone. Two friends looked past my disguise and saw the raw, open wounds of my heart. They could not be duped into believing I was okay. And because they loved me – the real me – they prayed the prayers I could not. They prayed over me on the phone. They prayed over me at my office. They prayed over me at the altar and after Bible study (which I was still teaching). They prayed over me at McDonald’s and Wal-Mart and wherever we were. They carried me to the Father when I couldn’t carry myself.
In Mark’s Gospel, a group of friends are bringing a paralyzed man to Jesus for healing. Four of them bore his weight as they held the corners of his mat. They climbed onto the top of the house and tore away the roof to get their friend to the only one who could help him. Interestingly, Mark says “When Jesus saw their faith. . .” he forgave the man and healed him. Their faith. No the paralytic’s faith. The faith of his friends. I wonder if, like me in my time of distress, the man had any faith himself at all.
Someone you know needs your prayers. Someone needs you to pick them up and carry them to Jesus. They have no strength of their own. They are paralyzed by life’s struggles and unable to come to Jesus by themselves. The Lord honored the faith of the man’s friends, just as He heard and honored the prayers of my friends. Healing came for the paralyzed man and for me; borne on the wings of others’ faithful intercession. Beloved, let’s look beneath the surface of our friendships. Let’s seek out the ones who bear the heavy burdens, and let’s bring them to Jesus. When my faith was almost gone, the faith of my friends carried me. Who needs your prayers – and your faith – today?