Jochebed and Miriam
Two more brave women, largely unsung, figure into the story of Moses. Jochebed and Miriam were Moses's mother and sister. Since the Hebrew midwives wouldn't kill the boy babies when they were born, Pharaoh ordered all Hebrew women to throw their newborn sons into the Nile River. Jochebed didn't throw her son into the river. Rather she wove a small boat for him and placed him in the river where she knew he would be found by someone from Pharaoh's household. Then she posted her daughter Miriam as a watchwoman to see what would become of him.
When Pharaoh's daughter found him and wanted to keep the baby as his own, Miriam bravely stepped up and suggested that a Hebrew woman nurse him. So Jochebed got to keep him for a few more years (Exodus 1:22-2:10).
Jochebed, had to give up her son twice. First, when she put him in the river. Second, when she sent him to live with Pharaoh's daughter. She desired life for her son enough to go through all that so that he could live. Shiphrah and Puah had to stand up to Pharaoh and disobey his orders. Miriam, just a slave girl, had to speak to the princess of the land and make a suggestion. It took the courage of these four women to bring to life a man who would change the world. Without their tenacity, Moses's mission would not have come to fruition.
For Reflection: What sacrifices or decisions have I made that I didn't understand at the time, but later realized they made a big difference in my life? When have I had to be courageous?
Let us pray. Lord, I struggle to be courageous like Shiphrah and Puah, Jochebed and Miriam. I don't know that I could defy someone as powerful as Pharaoh if an unlawful order is made. Would I be as resourceful as Jochebed? As brave as Miriam? I don't know.
Many Christians around the world today are under persecution as powerful as that of Pharaoh, Lord. Help me to stand with them in prayer at least.
(Note: Many Christians will be standing in prayer for persecuted Christians in various nations on August 1. Won't you join us in prayer?)
A Little Help from My Friends
As I looked around the church on Sunday, I noticed how many people in the congregation were using canes, walkers and crutches. Those are great testimonies to the treatments of modern medicine, but not such great testimonies to the healing power of Jesus.
When Jesus saw the faith of the man's friends, he healed the paralytic. We looked at this story of healing on Monday (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26). We don't know if the paralyzed man had faith. Maybe he did; maybe he didn't. But we know that his friends did. They carried him to Jesus, tore a hole in the roof, and, using ropes, lowered him in front of Jesus. That took planning, preparation and persistence.
This may be the case when we pray with someone. They may not have much faith, but their friend does or we do. The person in need of prayer may be hope-filled but not faith-filled. They may be doubtful or skeptical. They may be incapable of getting to Jesus on their own. We may be the only one praying who has faith. We may need to plan, prepare and persist so that the experience of healing can bring them to faith.
What would have happened to the man who was paralyzed if he hadn't gotten a little help from his friends? He could not have gotten to Jesus on his own. His friends helped him get his life back.
For reflection: Is there anyone among my friends with a knee, hip or ankle injury? Anyone facing joint surgery with weeks of rehabilitation afterward? Am I the friend who will take them to Jesus? Can I help them get their life back?
Let us pray. Jesus, you instantly healed the man who was paralyzed because his friends brought him to you. I bring to you today _____. I don't want him/her to suffer any longer. I don't care what the doctors say about the length of their recovery. I care about their health and their relationship to you.
Needs vs. Wants
We have been discussing being both bold and persistent in prayer through the lens of a couple of short stories told by Jesus. But there is something to note in these stories - Jesus is talking about praying for what you need. In the story from Luke 18: 1-8, Jesus speaks of a widow who needs justice. Probably her very livelihood depended on it. The position of widows in Jesus' time was tenuous. Women were dependent upon fathers or husbands to take care of them.
In the story from Luke 11:5-8, a man needs to set out food for unexpected visitors. In this instance, the need is not even for himself, it is for others. Hospitality was extremely important in Jewish culture. It was no doubt embarrassing for him to have to go to his neighbor in the middle of the night and admit that he did not even have bread for his visitors. How humiliating!
For reflection: In my prayers, am I asking for my needs and the needs of others? If I have all I need, whose needs can I attend to?
Let us pray. Jesus, I am knocking on your door. There are needs.
Persistence and Boldness
There is another short story in Luke about being persistent and bold about asking for what you need. Jesus proposes the following scenario: "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'
"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs" (Luke 11:5-8).
For reflection: Put yourself in the picture. With which man do you identify - the one asking for the bread or the one being asked for bread? Are you outside asking for a favor, or inside not wanting to be bothered?
Let us pray. Father, here I am knocking on your door. I hate to bother you again, but you said to be persistent and bold, so here I am. I need . . . .
Persistence in Prayer
Last week I spoke of asking God for keys to healing various physical afflictions. I've been doing this for some time because I know, from the Scriptures, that God ordinarily wants to heal people. The record shows that Jesus spent a lot of his time in ministry healing people. Jesus, being God, could heal people instantaneously. Most of the healings I've seen or heard about took time and persistence in prayer.
Jesus told a story about being persistent in prayer. A widow had a case before a corrupt judge. With no means to bribe the judge, her case was delayed and delayed. But she harangued and harassed him. She wore him down. She got her justice. Jesus added, "Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly (Luke 18:7-8).
The moral of the story is this: if a corrupt judge can eventually give justice, how much more will a loving God give his children what they need.
For reflection: Have I been persistent with God in prayer? If I don't have an answer yet, why have I stopped asking?
Let us pray. In your court, Lord, I ask for justice, I ask for healing, I ask for provision. I ask for wisdom and the keys to getting things done. I need (a job, a home, more business, peace, healing . . . ).
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.