Friday, January 15, 2016

Mark 1-2 Pray

So, I'm still in the first and second chapters of Mark. And it's made me think about prayer.

 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

I've heard people use this verse (Mark 1:35) as a scriptural admonition for us to get up early in the morning to pray. If you are a morning person, like Jesus apparently was, I would agree. What I take away from it is that it is important to pray regularly. There are lots of other examples in the Gospels of Jesus going away to a quiet place to pray. In fact, there are lots of positive examples of people praying throughout the Bible. It's a spiritual discipline that is encouraged throughout scripture.

Mark 2 starts out with a story that is familiar to those of us who grew up in church. Jesus is teaching and healing in a house that is so crowded that no one else can get in. A group of friends has brought a guy on a stretcher to be healed, but they can't get in the door. Instead, they get on the roof and remove the roof tiles or thatch or whatever and lower him down into the room.

Mark 2:5 says, 'When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”' The story goes on with the religious leaders of the time chastising Jesus for saying he can forgive sins because only God can forgive sins. Jesus says that, to show that the Son of Man has the authority to heal and forgive sins, he will heal the man, and he does. The paralyzed man gets up and walks.

So, why do I love this story? After all, their are plenty of stories in the Gospels about Jesus healing people. Here's my encounter with this little bit of the Gospel of Mark.

When I was in my Family Practice residency, I worked pretty hard, as you might imagine. Well, I was having one of "those weeks". I was doing an OB/GYN rotation. I had been up all night delivering a baby. I had delivered another baby earlier in the week, at night, of course. I had several difficult patient encounters, including several teenagers with sexually transmitted infections and one young woman who got her positive pregnancy test, stood up, and said that she was off to the abortion clinic the next day. By Friday afternoon, I was completely brain-dead.

Then, my husband called to tell me that a friend/acquaintance of mine called to see if we wanted to go to a revival service with her that night because we were "religious and liked that kind of stuff". He was going to tell her "no" because he knew I was tired, but I said we should go to support her.

So, we went to this little Baptist church in a little tiny town in rural Kentucky for their revival service. My hopes weren't high. But, the music was good for me and let me relax and start to worship.

Then the preacher (from the big city of Bowling Green) preached his sermon. Yes, he preached on the story of the paralytic who was healed. But, the preacher focused on something besides the healing that night. He reminded us of the friends who brought the paralyzed man to the house and lowered him down to Jesus. Jesus told the man that his sins were forgiven because of the faith of his friends! The paralyzed man was healed because his friends brought him to Jesus.

They brought him to the feet of Jesus. That's our job. We aren't supposed to "fix" people or situations. We are to bring them to the feet of Jesus. Sometimes that means to be involved in their lives. All of the time, it includes prayer. Bring them to the feet of Jesus. Pray. Let God do the heavy lifting.

That night, I had the most emotional spiritual experience I have ever had. It's the time that I've heard God speak to me most clearly. "Bring them to the feet of Jesus." My life was starting to change at this revival service in a little church in rural Kentucky. And the friend that brought me - yeah, she rededicated her life to Jesus that night, too.

So, we see Jesus giving us the example of prayer. He's God, but he needs to communicate with the other members of the Trinity, so he prays. It's also a good example for us of the spiritual discipline of prayer. And then, in chapter 2, we see the working out of "bringing someone to the feet of Jesus." In that case, it's physical.

In many cases, bringing someone to the feet of Jesus is best done through prayer. I've learned so much about prayer in the last few years that I'd like to share with you over the next few weeks. But, the reality is that prayer is part of being united with Christ and having faith. Communicating with God is part of working out our faith, so it's personal and a little different for each person. But, starting with the example of Jesus of just doing it every day is good.

How does prayer work for you?
What do you think of the "bring them to the feet of Jesus analogy?" 

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