The 2 Sets of Circumstances that Make Us Pray Desperately

He is ready to help us when we are feeling too small or when we are feeling too big. But let’s also recognize this: The help He offers is not to get us out of either situation. It’s not necessarily to fix our troubling circumstances, nor is it to elevate us out of our current situation. It is rather the form us into the image of Jesus using both circumstances.

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:46-48).

It’s a simple prayer. One of the simplest in the whole Bible, and yet we shouldn’t make the mistake of equating its simplicity with its fervency. A lifetime of pain and hardship is crammed into these few words. There are no flowery phrases and beautiful appeals here – only urgency. Desperation. Need.

And don’t we know what that feels like? Surely we do – to be in the midst of a situation when all the words have run out; when emotions are stretched to their limit; when we find ourselves acutely aware of our need; and when the only prayer we can squeak is something like what Bartimaeus kept disruptively repeating here:

“Help me.”

While the circumstances that prompt desperate prayers like that are varied, they all have a couple of characteristics in common, namely:

  • We realize that we cannot do or be or feel what a situation demands on our own, and…
  • We need someone outside of ourselves to come to our aid.

In other words, prayers like these are born when we see, in combination, the situation confronting us and our own weakness in the midst of it. Again, the circumstances that bring about these realizations are many and varied, but perhaps we could group those circumstances into two main categories. The first one won’t surprise you, but perhaps the second one will:

1. Category 1: When the circumstances are too big.

This is the unsurprising category. Sometimes the circumstances in front of us are just too big.

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