I was reminded this morning of the importance of regular eye exams and updating prescriptions for your lenses when it is necessary. Over time, we will become accustomed to whatever comes through the pupils of our eyes and even begin missing the finer details around us. Indeed, we may even miss seeing something altogether! This morning, the Lord let me look through some different lenses.
Three of the Apostles - Matthew, Mark and Luke - include the account of an event that happened during Jesus' ministry in Galilee. The story is not an obscure one. Children who are exposed to any of the New Testament stories and parables invariably know this one too. It is the dramatic event of four friends and a friend of theirs who was paralyzed (Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, and Luke 5:12-16). A side note: isn't it interesting that there were four men who carried him? It would take that many to lower a "bed", cot, or pallet through the roof - each one perhaps holding a corner.
There are, of course, many angles from which to view this miraculous event early in Jesus ministry - the power of friendship, unbelief vs. belief, forgiveness of sins, determination, perseverance, faith, etc. But as I read this passage this morning, the message that rang out loud and clear for me was the power and importance of intercessory prayer for those around us. Prayer is not mentioned anywhere in the passage nor discussed. But the very act of these dear friends carrying their friend to Jesus - one who was not able to travel there on his own - highlights the importance of bringing individuals before the throne of grace through our prayers. Christ honored the efforts, love and faith of these four men by forgiving the sins of the paralytic and healing him physically. Spiritual and physical healing. Nowhere does it say that it was the faith of the man who was paralyzed - he was helpless. In this case, he needed those around him to "carry him" to the Lord.
What an amazing and humbling perspective of our role and privilege in bringing others to the throne of grace for mercy and healing. All of us know individuals who are struggling, in pain or burdened with the cares of this world. We have the opportunity to be one of the "cot bearers" for them - lifting and lowering them to the feet of the Savior. He will take it from there.
For those of you interested in reading about present day "cot bearers", Abbot Joseph (Mt. Tabor Monastery in California) has written two wonderful accounts of the ministry that monks have in praying for others: Monks at Prayer (part I) and Monks at Prayer (part II)