Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Praying with Faith

Mark today (Mk 5: 21-43) relates two stories in one - the woman with a hemorrhage and the daughter of Jairus. We hear of the Lord dealing with issues of both life and death.
Jairus was a synagogue official, which means he was a learned man. He knew that approaching Jesus would put him in a precarious position with others in power. But this was his daughter who was dying! He desperately came and begged Jesus to help. And the Lord complied with the request, setting out immediately.
Now along the way, the woman approached him. She had been hemorrhaging for twelve years - imagine! Her life-blood was constantly seeping from her body, and she must have been in a debilitated state. Take into consideration also that, because of her condition, she would have been ritually impure all the time, not just when other women were during their monthly cycle. That means not only could she not go to the temple, but no one in contact with her could either. What a burden! She did not even speak with the Lord, but simply touched his cloak in order to "tap into" His healing power. And it worked! After exchanging words with her, He continued on the way. When others came to inform the official that his daughter had died, Jesus simply told him to have faith and not be afraid. as a result, the child was raised from death and returned to health (proven by her eating something).
Both of these miracles emphasize the need for faith. The woman's faith was so strong that she did not need to say anything, simply touch His cloak. And the official's faith gave him the courage to defy others in power and ask Jesus for help. Both showed a tremendously deep faith in the person of Jesus. They didn't badger or nag, they simply placed the problem in front of Him and expected results. Neither one seemed worried about whether or not they would be successful, they simply turned to Jesus.
And what about us? it is always concerning when I hear about people who go to elaborate lengths to try and impress God. Sometimes they even try to force God's hand. I have little patience with those who put so-called "novenas" into churches that command you to say particular prayers for nine days, make a number of copies of the prayers and instructions, and then place them in a church. "Never known to fail", "God will give you what you want" and other statements are really trying to convince you that you have power over God. What nonsense!
The best examples we have of intercessory prayer are found in Scripture, such as these two in today's Gospel. We always have needs, wants, desires that we submit to God in prayer. But we must do it with the faith that says God will always do what is best for us. Sometimes that means the answer will be yes, sometimes no. And sometimes it will be something completely different than we expect. Whatever the answer, when we pray with faith we can always be confident that God hears and answers according to His will. and we should always pray for the grace to hear and understand the answer God gives. In this way, our faith is increased and we draw closer and closer to God.

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