May 072014
 

blind-beggar-bartimaeusI have a recurring nightmare…had it again last night.

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…

  45 Responses to ““What Do You Want Me To Do For You?””

  1. When I can, I attend a recovery based service in town, cause those folks are flat out honest and real.
    One week, the sermon was on this very topic. At the end, there was the opportunity to go forward and wrote your request on a sticky note as if you were saying it to Jesus.
    The whole way up the aisle I thought I would write one thing, but when I got there and really thought what it was I REALLY wanted, it was something entirely different.
    Im not going to share what it was because that’s between He and I, but, I can say, I can look back at specific instances and see where that prayer is being answered. Subtle changes but transforming

  2. I want God to restore me to Himself — a relationship that has been rocky from the start. I want Him to restore my friendship with a friend I seem to have lost right now… And make me useful and helpful to those I love.

  3. I just finished teaching Mark 10 this past weekend. It’s always striking to me whenever Jesus asks a question. After all, as God, He knows. Especially in the case of Bartimaeus. What did the man want? He was obviously blind. Even if someone denied the omniscience of Jesus, Jesus certainly was not obtuse. He knew the man’s blindness.

    But Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to ask.

    God wants us to ask. Make your own application. 😉

  4. London,

    Thank you for that.
    It was interesting when I taught on this…not everyone was sure what their answer would be.
    I believe that we could all have a measure of the transformation you spoke of if we were honest to God with our answers.

  5. Ryan,

    Your relationship with God has been restored.
    My prayer for you is that you are able to know that, embrace that, and live in that truth.

  6. Ryan:

    “I want God to restore me to Himself” and “And make me useful and helpful to those I love.”

    Of these two I can offer only a trivial advice:

    1. He has never left
    2. The same answer applies to 1 and 2.

    The walk with God is not some magical idol sacrifice worship driven process. It is a life of hearing and just doing. The more you hear and do the more you hear and do.

    You want restoration of friendships then go restore and start new friendships. Be a giver of the same hospitality God gives you in Jesus to others and expect nothing back.

    This walk with God was never about getting, it is about giving to others. Of course when you give it gets returned and that is the surprise!

    Restore yourself with God and give to your neighbor!

    Nothing fancy and nothing to gain.

    Too bad most of us notice what we didn’t get.

    As always I’m preaching to myself also!

  7. Tim,

    I believe He does want us to ask…so that He can show His mercy and love for us in His answers.

  8. I was thinking about this the other day, the simplicity of asking God in prayer. I remember for many years, a rather popular CC guy (in your neck of the woods, Michael) used to teach on prayer, using the model of the OT tabernacle, where you would repent, worship, blah, blah, blah until you reach the “holiest of holies”. I tried that once and by the time I went through all the steps of “entering in” I was exhausted! But Jesus gave us a template for prayer and that is the best way. Aside from the Lord’s prayer, he made several statements about simply asking. So now I do just that. I know that is a bit of an oversimplification, but prayer does not need to be complicated, formulaic.

    Michael, thanks for the good word about prayer.

  9. @7, Amen. 🙂

  10. ““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
    (Matthew 7:7–11 ESV)

  11. DavidM,

    That fellow talks a lot of blah, blah, blah. 🙂
    We simply need to be honest…and ask.

  12. Tim,
    The hung I found interesting in that exercise was that the man would want to have sight, because that’s what we think we would want, but really, there’s a million other things he could have wanted more.
    This way, by Jesus outright asking, the man is required to think for himself and declare what he wants. That whole speak the thing into existence idea.
    For me, the time it took to work myself down the line to the post-it’s gave me time to think “if I really only had ONE thing I could ask for, what would it be?”
    It was a powerful exercise to have to move toward that place where you could imagine him standing and just work through what it is you REALLY want him to do for you.

  13. Yes. A direct question and a direct answer. I don’t believe that prayer is meant to be hard work, as described in the template of of the Tabernacle (that David M shared), but I do believe it is meant to be hard work because it is *heart* work. I think Jesus repeatedly asks the question of us, “what do you want me to do” because we are not being honest with him or honest with ourselves. Wrestling with that question as London did when she walked down the aisle is part of the prayer process. It’s a talking it over with God, reasoning with Him, as He strips away all the junk covering up the *real* need that you have. When He says, “come, let us reason together” that’s the part of prayer that is hard heart work. Sometimes it takes a lot of Jesus and I walking together talking it all out, before I can come to the place of giving a direct and honest answer to His question. Usually, once we’ve talked it out, the answer (as it was for London) is not at all what I originally thought I would ask for. When I finally get to that real answer, then He says, *now* we can talk about my answer to your prayer.

  14. London,

    You got the real point of this post…thank you.

  15. His Kid,

    Good to see you again!
    Good word, too…

  16. I think in your dream you’re looking to man to help you — you don’t need a phone to call out to Jesus — He hears you – so get rid of the phone. I would suggest you read the story of Peter in the boat – getting out of it in the storm to walk over to Jesus – he doubted and began to sink and Jesus caught him when he cried out His name.

  17. I usually stumble right out of the gate, because the term(s) I learned years ago to address prayer to God sound so phony, stilted, and unnatural. Then I turn against myself and judge my stilted, unnatural, phony heart and shrivel on the plate…not like air out of a balloon, but something more…organic.

  18. so I suppose it is an issue of trusting in the goodness of God–that He in his goodness honestly asks ‘what do you want from me?’ not looking to pounce or find a reason to censor the request. I have a lot to learn and embrace about grace.

  19. My answer would be “I have no clue. I want what You know is best for my life”.

    I read the Book of Ruth (should be called the Book of Naomi) today…WOW…. Naomi, a Jew, woman of faith…. unbelievable ongoing hardship after hardship til she says “The hand of the All Mighty is against me”, yet she kept Faith in the God who oversaw loss of almost anything and everything we would call ‘blessings’. I think that much of the teaching and preaching that I have heard in my christian life (including that local SoO preacher mentioned above) is off. Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world” “having food and raiment be content”….. frankly, for many today and historically, they’ve not even had that, yet they maintained Faith in God. Hope in God and Love for God. I honestly have no clue what I would say to Jesus if He asked me today…. however, my son in law has a job interview today and he could really use a season of success.

  20. yes…the ol’ praying through the tabernacle schtick. I never made it through the outer courts. 😉 I agree with DavidM & Pmama’s critiques.

  21. Fil 🙂 love that word ‘schtick’. Sometimes I think the language of heaven is Yiddish.

  22. I’m sorry that my ‘nom de plumme’ here keeps reverting back to paige….2013…. I’m much older now! 🙂

  23. fil,

    Our mental talk track in prayer is usually a litany of reasons why God won’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t, answer our requests.
    The truth as I have seen it throughout the Gospel is that He answers because He is compassionate and merciful despite our sins and failures.
    The reason He answers is because of His goodness, not ours.
    We need to be retrained… 🙂

  24. We would all be “sunk” if Jesus wasn’t there for us, even in the midst of our struggle with doubts. “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

  25. Fil…I love the word “schtick” too! 🙂 But in all fairness, I have to add that there are deep and beautiful truths tucked into the imagery of the Old Testament Tabernacle that pertain to prayer and worship. I have learned much by diving into that portion of Scripture. But for me to try and share that with someone would be kind of like the old “taking a drink from a firehose” image. As I have learned, Jesus gave me one little drink at a time, and He gave me just what I was thirsty for at that moment. I wonder about our method of teaching each other now that we’ve changed it to look more like a college class (and we attend a “campus” now!) with notes, outlines and the like. In Jesus’ day you walked alongside your Master and He pointed out truths to you as they happened along the road of life. You received just what you needed at just the time you needed it. Slow, steady, always changing as life changes around you. It has definitely made me reconsider how I think about “discipling” in the future. All that to say…I don’t want to leave the topic of prayer without encouraging people to study the Tabernacle–it is a rich source of understanding for each of us who are, after all, “the temple of God.” But don’t use it as a paradigm…just let the Holy Spirit uncover truths as you walk and talk together.

  26. I love how Jesus told us “when you pray say, ‘Our Father……” As a mother, I know the love a parent has for a child and I do not believe that Jesus used this example for nothing. I believe it was very intentional.

  27. michael,
    that ‘mental talk track’ is the product of our self-view, theological understandings & misunderstandings, and previous experiences. I don’t think ‘the devil’ has anything to do with it as some might assert. Ol’ poopy pants gets more credit than he deserves sometimes. Yes, we need to be retrained–and encouraged not to quit.

  28. I often have a recurring dream where I am back in high school. I am trying to open my locker but can’t remember my combination. Then I need to get to my next class but I can’t remember what classroom it’s in or how to get there. Then I realize that I’m not wearing pants and have on only underwear.

    I want Him to stop me from having this stupid dream anymore. 🙂

  29. Hi sKid,
    I always stumbled at the implication…that somehow practitioners of the model would become spiritual giants like the pastor who routinely, deeply, and fruitfully plumbed the depths of God using this template. I had trouble splashing in the puddles outside. 😉

    thanks for the additional feedback.

  30. Kevin H,
    15-19-36, and go past the first # before going to the second. 😉

  31. fil,

    Thanks. But you got any spare pants I can borrow, too? 😉

  32. Fil, that’s why I encourage people to just let the Holy Spirit reveal little truths about it. It was never meant to be a model that we practice. I think we all would like a list of steps to take and so we tend to break down everything we learn into an easy to follow paradigm. And that takes us right back into legalism. Just follow the steps, and we’ll be fine, right? So I’m not a “practitioner of the model” but He often reminds me of the truths I learned there at just the time that He knows I ought to remember them. He’ll speak to my heart, “Remember when I told you about entering my gates with thanksgiving? You ought to do that now.” Or, “remember when we talked about the incense rising? How do you think that relates to what you are going through right now?” And He gently leads me. I don’t want to create a paradigm to follow, but if I have meditated on these things He can point me back to them in times of need.

  33. do you mind stains in embarrassing places? 😉

  34. Kevin, I have that same dream! Holy cow, now I can admit it 🙂

  35. I just want a hug.

  36. {{{{{Dusty}}}}}}

  37. Dusty}}}}}

    (side hug)

  38. If this is how you teach from the Word…I want to go to your church!
    You do not bore God’s people. Very rich insight.
    Thanks

  39. I guess I will add my two cents addressing #2 Ryan.

    We all set the pace of what kind of a relationship we want to have with God.

    James said, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

    Way back when divers watches first came on the scene I got one. It had an alarm on it that I could set.

    I told God that I wanted more of His presence in my life. I set my watch to go off at 2:00 PM every day.

    No matter what I was doing I would stop doing it and get alone somewhere and lift my hands up to the Lord while waiting upon Him.

    After two weeks of doing this with nothing happening at all, suddenly one day Jesus Christ appeared standing at my right side.

    Tears started rolling down my cheeks as I experienced the love and the life emanating from His presence beside me.

    Light was flowing out of His heart and spreading out in all directions. Like that brass heart we see in Catholic churches with light rays spreading out from it.

    I got on my knees with my head bowed low in awe and adoration. Then just as quickly as He appeared He was gone.

    After that every time my watch went off and I got alone to fellowship with Him the Holy Spirit manifested His presence.

    ***

    Another time in the early 90’s I felt like I had drifted a bit from God in my relationship with Him. I wanted that closeness back.

    So I got some Vineyard worship CD’s from when John Wimber was alive and started to listen to the worship. I listened and lifted up my heart to the Lord for days.

    Then one day the Holy Spirit came upon me and I was in such bliss as I sat there listening to the worship. There was a closeness and a peaceful atmosphere that surrounded me.

    Patience and persistence paid off…

  40. One more comment to add to a growing excellent thread:

    Prayer is simply a discipline and talking. When the prayers of the scriptures are looked at two things to me emerge, one God is spoken to with respect and second people just talk straight with God. There’s a bunch of real, not planned, falling on face but the conversations aren’t full of special words designed to impress God somehow. Just real stuff!

    I do like it when Abraham is interceding (another “spiritual” word) on behalf of Sodom (a city and valley he personally just saved under the direction of God) and he calls himself something like, “dust and ashes.” Interestingly God continues to say, yes I will spare the city and in the end Abraham just quits asking and trusts that God will be completely just and fair (which really is the subject of the prayer, because Abraham already knows they’re wicked to the core) with the inhabitants.

    Interesting that Abraham, a man who is the man of faith, would challenge the fairness of God… hmmmm maybe RB should go and read that part of the OT.

  41. “Prayer is simply a discipline and talking”

    Prayer isn’t just talking though. There’s so many more options than just words.
    People pray while dancing, drawing, listening, doing pottery (my new personal spiritual exercise), photographing etc. none of which have to have words spoken.
    I think we limit prayer when we said it is about talking. I think churches in general do a huge disservice to people when they define prayer that way.

  42. I’m with London on her expression of prayer.

    Communing with God, in Whom we live and move and have our being, has devolved into praying where we are spraying words upward to a distant and separate disengaged Being assumed to be somewhere else, in a destination someplace else.

  43. I’m with London too! Sometimes I don’t even realise I am praying and God’s spirit breaks through and “speaks” to me. It’s so much deeper than just talking. Even when we don’t know what words to use or what to say, the spirit intercedes through us.

  44. Thank you jlo and EricL for the hugs ((((hugs back at ya)))

  45. davidsurfer51, thanks for sharing such an intimate tender time with Jesus with us.

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