Gospel Story: Blind Bartimaeus

Scattered throughout the Gospels are the “prayers of the plain men and women”, rough and unlettered most of them, who encountered Jesus.

These prayers are ‘one-liners’, and usually ask for a favour, or intercede for a dear one. They are direct, straight from the heart. They are persistent, in spite of the shooing and booing of the passers-by.

And as they are prayers from the heart, Jesus rarely left them unanswered.

The classic ‘prayer of the plain man’ is the one we read of in today’s Gospel, the plea of the blind Bartimaeus, the beggar who encountered Jesus on the road to Jericho. His invocation, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” was a great favorite with St Francis Xavier.

So we can take this little passage as a textbook lesson on how to pray.

First, keep praying persistently and don’t give up. Ignore all discouraging remarks. “The people in front of Bartimaeus told him sharply to hold his tongue, but he called out all the more, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.’ ”

Second, ask plainly for what you want, don’t be vague. When Jesus asked, “what do you want me to do for you?” he said plainly, “sir, I want my sight back!”

Thirdly, and most importantly, give thanks to God for what you’ve received. Bartimaeus gave thanks by following Jesus, praising God. And all the people gave praise to God for what they had seen.

We have no record in the Gospels that Jesus ever turned away anyone who asked for healing. No matter how hard pressed he was, no matter how imperfect the faith of the one who asked, the Lord heals. And invariably he adds, “Your faith has cured you.”

What is this faith? It is to put your trust in the personal relationship you have with Jesus, and to believe that no matter how long he takes, he won’t ever let you down. And then to allow this personal relationship to grow, so that it becomes the most important thing in your life.

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