Mark 2:1-12 tells the story of the four friends who carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing. The biblical text doesn’t tell us the root cause of the paralysis – whether it was physical or emotional or spiritual. Instead, the story stresses the faith of the four friends who had the love and took the time to carry their friend to Jesus. Not only did they carry him across town to the place where Jesus was staying, they went up on the roof and dug through the roofing materials so that they could lower their friend down through the roof directly to the attention of Jesus.
Recently at our Prayer Leadership Team retreat, we did an exercise from the Companions in Christ materials that involved a form of guided imagery. As the leader read through the story, we paused often to silently visualize someone who we would like to carry to Jesus for healing. As directed, we silently visualized who that person was and what the obstacles were that we had to go through to get him/her to Jesus. It was a very powerful exercise of intercessory prayer.
Intercessory prayer is a gift of love that demonstrates that a person cares enough about his friend or family worker to carry them to Jesus. Scripture tells us that Jesus is now our intercessor in heaven (Romans 8:34). A caution about intercessory prayer is that it can be a considered a club by those who are at a different place in their faith journey. At an earlier time in my life, I remember being offended when someone told me they were praying for me. I saw their care as condemnation. Now, I thank people profusely for praying for me and say “bring it on!” I am finally at the point of realizing the great gift of love that intercessory prayer can be.
Who is on your stretcher today??
Pastor of Prayer Ministry and Congregational Care