January 28, 2018 by Kgalalelo
The above is a question asked by Jesus to Bartimaeus the blind man when He heard him shouting his name, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus was leaving Jericho accompanied by His disciples when He heard the call. Bartimaeus shouted twice to Jesus as people around him were trying to stop him, rebuking him to be quiet. The bible says when Jesus asked that he be called to him, Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside and jumped to his feet and came to the Lord then Jesus said to him “What do you want me to do for you? The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see”. “Then Jesus said to him “Go, your faith has healed you. Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road” (Luke 18:35-41).
When this scripture came to mind, I was writing a prayer list and there were things on the list that were bothering me in my heart that I felt could not be fixed by any human being but the Lord Himself. I wrote the list and then cancelled things on my paper that I wasn’t too sure how to phrase and whether some of them were really things that I should be asking for until I thought about Jesus and how He would want me to phrase my requests. I asked “Jesus, how would you want me to ask?” that was my launch pad.
I thought about Bartimaeus and I heard the voice of Jesus in my mind say “what do you want me to do for you? Bartimaeus’ cry was for Jesus to have mercy on him. His prayer was simple and easy enough but a generalised request.
This was not enough for Jesus as He knew what the man wanted deep in his heart for Psalm 139:1-5 says “Lord, you have examined me
and know all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
You know my thoughts before I think them.
You know where I go and where I lie down.
You know everything I do.
Lord, even before I say a word,
you already know it.
You are all around me—in front and in back”
There is nothing that God doesn’t know about us even before we open our mouths He knows the words that will come out. Hebrews 4:13 says “nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes”.
The dictionary defines mercy as compassion, kind-heartedness, leniency, sympathy and the like and anyone can extend these to everyone in any manner including Jesus. He could have given him a meal as an act of kindness or money or guided him home with his hand as an act of mercy but Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to be specific with his request. He was simply saying ‘I can be merciful to you about many things but which one do you want me to focus on’. As soon as Bartimaeus said give me sight, it was granted. Jesus said to him “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well” (Luke 18:42).
I revisited my list and wrote Jesus’ question to Bartimaeus at the top of the page as if Jesus was speaking to me. I wanted to be very clear in my request realising that there are many things I have asked for over the years in prayer and yet haven’t seen the manifestation thereof in my life. Often, we are encouraged to pray but hardly taught how. It is assumed that because we are believers, we know how. We mimic our pastors and people around us. A pastor once said that with him, when he began in ministry, he used to search for sermons preached by others and preached those until nothing was left and that’s when he surrendered and asked the Holy Spirit to be his partner and teach him, and he began preparing his sermons guided by the Holy Spirit. If it is your desire to know how to pray aright, all you need to do is to ask the Holy Spirit to teach and guide you in phrasing your words that you won’t miss the mark. We might be shooting at the wrong target most of the time without realising it.
A friend once said that God listens to the heart and your thoughts more than listening to your words. Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life”. When Bartimaeus asked for what was in his heart, he received it. 1 Corinthians 2:11 says “For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them?” You can announce to others what you want but your innermost heart knows the truth of your desires.
We babble at times in our prayers and sometimes pray because we have been requested to or do it out of routine but not mean anything by it. I often wonder as well during collective prayer whether everyone is in harmony all the time or just pray in obedience to their spiritual leader. There are many things that are being prayed for, for years and yet places of worship do not see the fruits. There can be many reasons including praying amiss. Prayer points can be established but whether everyone is aligned is something else, hence the importance of education about prayer consistently and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about our hearts.
I had a discussion with a colleague this past Friday morning at work and were talking about God’s grace and she professed that her pastor declared 2019 a year of rest. The pastor I learnt was honest enough before the congregation that there have been times where he also didn’t trust the Lord wholeheartedly. He did some of the things on his own, tried to help the Lord with some as well as telling the Lord how to do it but now that it has been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, he will rest this year and allow God to do it for him and in his own way. This was encouraging, coming from the mouth of the messenger of the Lord, that the church may learn from Him and watch their words, thoughts and actions if they need to see the manifestation of their desires in their lives.
I have struggled to articulate what I want and yet, are times where I nailed it because I would see by the fruits, however, praying aright all the time is critical. As children of God, we have abundant promises in His word but experience little in our life time. I’ve been very polite in my asking and thought I should not impose on God without being direct and to the point. We go to the east and then the west before we come to the point of our prayer as if God doesn’t know what we want to ask Him. Today Jesus is direct and concise and is asking “What do you want me to do for you?”
When I reviewed my list, I had written things that would get me to where I wanted to be instead of asking for where I wanted to be, as easy as that and how God did it was literally His problem. I said to God ‘if you place me here, I would be able to get over there instead of saying ‘God, I want to be over there’. God knows how to do it without taking the long way. I’ve realised that if I tell Him how to do it, I don’t get it at all and if I do, it is through other means and not what I initially thought about. It is the same as asking God for money to buy a car instead of asking for a car. He can get you a fully paid car without giving you money to purchase it, you may win a car competition or someone might gift you a car and even pay for the car insurance. God can do it any how He wants to if you trust Him.
We don’t have the things we want because we have already figured it out in our hearts how the gift should be wrapped. It matters not if you tell others that you are trusting in the Lord, your spirit that searches your heart knows the truth. You cannot lie to yourself nor to God. Your deep-seated thoughts are known to you and God.
There are infinite possibilities, however, we put God in a box.
I scrutinised my list again and realised that I was superficial and lacked faith deep in my heart that indeed God can do it. We read articles that give us ten steps to develop a particular skill without asking God to impart the skill or education in us. We have unbelief because we have been taught and socialised in a certain way and most often would be told that we are unrealistic. You can be mocked for believing the impossible but Jesus still says “All things are possible to him who believes!” (Mark 9:23). Our pitfall is that we announce to others and they dilute whatever we say thus planting the seed of doubt in us. As soon as you doubt, you don’t get it.
There are millions of people on this earth who are in the same boat, worshipping week in and out in churches but nothing changes in their lives. They have been prophesised upon and yet haven’t seen the manifestation of the prophesy and begin to doubt that it was indeed true. It could be many things but the fact is that you are still where you were ten years ago or even more and nothing has changed in your life. You are still going to a job that you don’t like, studying a course you don’t like and living your life from day to day just to get by but there’s no passion in what you are doing. Bartimaeus never wasted time, he went for it, the thing which he wanted the most in his life. People around him couldn’t stop him. They had sight and he didn’t and therefore did not worry about them. We worry too much about what people might say. Bartimaeus never announced to people around him what he intended to do. He just shouted to Jesus and focused.
Though he couldn’t see, he knew about the miracles of healing that Jesus performed and believed that if Jesus could raise the dead, heal leprosy, turn water into wine, multiply bread, then He could give him his sight and it was so.
Footnote: Scriptures taken from the The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1982: Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, Inc. & The ESV Global Study Bible®, ESV® Bible, Copyright © 2012 by Crossway. All rights reserved & The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Kgalalelo Saane Mphephuka
If you love to explore, observe and feel appreciation for God's goodness in your life, then you will feel right at home on this site.