In the dream I find myself in some situation where I need to call 911…and every screen on my phone will work except the one where you dial.
No matter what I do, no matter how many phones I try…I can’t make the call.
I can’t call for help.
Eventually, the frustration wakes me up…more exhausted than when I laid down.
That dream is a reflection of my frustrations with prayer.
There is a disconnect somewhere…and I offer the following as a possible explanation of that.
Twice in the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus asks people an astounding question.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
The Creator and Sustainer of all things, who can do and create all things, asks fallen humans the greatest open question imaginable.
The first answer He gets is both shameful and laughable at the same time.
“And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?”And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”” (Mark 10:35–37 ESV)
As ridiculous as that answer is, Jesus doesn’t say no…He uses it as a teaching moment and clarifies what they are really asking for and the path they must walk to get where they want to go.
The second instance is wondrous.
“And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” (Mark 10:46–52 ESV)
Simple question with a miraculous answer…because God is merciful.
We have made prayer into an ordeal of finding the right postures, words, attitudes, and practices to get the attention of the Almighty…then when we have His attention we bury our true feelings and desires under a personal liturgy we think will please Him.
What if…what if…He was simply asking a direct question and expecting a direct answer?
What if He is asking you and me today…”what do you want me to do for you?”
Do you have an answer?
I do…and I’ll be yelling over the crowd and flagging Him down this morning to tell Him.
Make your own application…