From Chapter 23, “The Cry,” in the book Pause With Jesus: Encountering His Story in Everyday Life.
Bartimaeus lacked courtesy. Jesus, busy and in constant demand, stood in the middle of a large audience. He needed to leave that city and be about His Father’s business. An interruption by a neighborhood street bum’s screams fell under the heading of unnecessary demands on the already overworked Messiah. His friends, family, the denominational committee and the neighborhood watch commission voted to veto his screams. Their schemes would not allow such a distraction.
What should happen next? What should happen when crowds disapprove of what our souls crave? The Bartimaeus in us should keep believing. When told to silence our effort to have a little faith, the Bartimaeus in us must shout even more—whatever our effort of shouting might be.
The more acute the condition, the less the crying one cares what others think. Bartimaeus continued crying out. His vision overlooked the critics. His hopes rested in Christ alone.
Jesus paused. He turned toward those keeping a block between the shouter and the Listener, and said, “Call him.”
Though Christ planned to journey to Jerusalem for the Passover, He took time for a beggar. He refused to pass him over.
Those who told Bartimaeus to hush, hurried to shift their views. “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you,” they declared. Bartimaeus heard their words, left cool composure behind, darted to his feet, tossed off his outer garment, and raced to Jesus.
I think of one word here: desperation!
I think that is a word and a reality we prefer to ignore, to deny, to misinterpret. We feel desperate but tend to respond incorrectly. We prefer to hide it under the stack of our efforts and labor and goals and agenda. I pray I become more like Bartimaeus. Instead of running away, I pray I run toward. Instead of a casual stroll, sometimes I might just need my pause to be a race toward Jesus. Through the crowds of my own doubts, past the distractions of my self-talk, beyond obstruction from poor decisions I’ve made, I need to run toward Jesus.
Not to escape. To enter.
Not to seek a momentary high. To pursue healing.
With anticipation, Bartimaeus scurried to the side of the Savior with expectant faith. When Bartimaeus arrived, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do?” Bartimaeus did not want sympathy. He did not crave attention. He did not seek pity that would provide a framework for owning a distinct identity. Bartimaeus wanted one thing. To be healed. He said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
Short. Direct. To the point. That is a way to pray.
Long litanies overflowing with elegant words? Not required.
An honest, desperate cry for a specific need.
Maybe today’s prayer requests should be just that.