Lessons From Mark: Bartimaeus Teaches Us How To Pray

Have you ever had a desperate longing in your heart? A plea that you knew was too great for any earthly fulfillment, but that must be carried to the cross, again and again? For Bartimaeus, that prayer was to regain his sight. We find the story of this blind beggar in Mark 10:46-52. There are some profound lessons to be learned about prayer from this short passage.

The heart of prayer

And they came to Jericho. 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!” Mark 10:46-47

For Bartimaeus, Jesus must have seemed so close, yet impossibly far away. Not only was there a great crowed surrounding Jesus, but Bartimaeus was blind, and all he had at his disposal to get Jesus’ attention was his voice. So he cried out, a simple and honest plea, “Have mercy on me.” Really, isn’t this is at the center of everything we pray? These few words sum up our very stance before God – that He is indeed the Lord our God, and that we are in need of His mercy. Jesus may feel far away, or impossible to reach, but we can be assured that when we cry out, He hears us.

The beginning of prayer

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” – Mark 10:48

Prayer starts with a desire, and often times, a desperate need. We cry out to God, and are frustrated when we feel that we are not heard. When frustration is mixed with desperation, one of two things will happen. Either we will listen to the voices telling us to give up, and try (unsuccessfully) to find other ways to fix our own problems, or we will persevere, and become louder and bolder in our plea. God wants us to persistently approach his throne, and to have the audacity to believe that in His name, it will be done.

The secret ingredient of prayer


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 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.” – Mark 10:49-52

We know the end of this story – that Bartimaeus was healed. We might even have assumed that ending even we haven’t read this passage before, seeing as it is right in the middle of the Gospels during Jesus’ ministry on earth. But for Bartimaeus this was a desperate plea that he cried loudly through the crowds, even though his peers tried to drown him out and discourage him. He continued to seek healing from the only one who was capable of giving it to him – Jesus Christ. Let us continue to pray in this way, confident that our God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

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