Saint Anthony, Abbot (Memorial)
Unable to get near Jesus. . . , they opened up the roof above him.
Four men carried their friend to the house where Jesus was preaching. Foremost in their minds was getting as close as possible. No matter what the obstacles, they would push through and not give up. “If we can just get to Jesus,” they told each other. They weren’t sure what to expect, but all the stories of healing they had heard filled them with hope and expectation. They wanted Jesus to heal their friend.
What a beautiful image for intercessory prayer! When we intercede, we bring ourselves into the presence of Jesus—and we bring the person or situation we’re praying for right along with us. Filled with hope that Jesus can do anything, we lay the person at his feet and ask him for help.
But how do we get ourselves into the presence of Jesus? One way is to start your intercessory time with worship. Set aside everything else that’s on your mind and focus on how wonderful Jesus is. Praise him for his power and mercy and love. Thank him for everything he has done for this person or in this situation already. Fix your heart on all that is good and holy and beautiful about Jesus, and you’ll drive out the fear, doubt, and anxiety that can keep you from knowing his presence.
If you find doubt or worry creeping in because it looks like no answer is coming, imitate the men in today’s reading (Mark 2:4): don’t give up! They went so far as to climb the roof and take off the tiles so they could lower their friend in front of Jesus. Try to persist as well! Remember, Jesus knows the situation or the person completely; he won’t abandon you.
Also, as you intercede, stay confident that Jesus is at work, even if it’s behind the scenes. It was that kind of confidence that drove the men to do whatever it took to reach Jesus. When Jesus sees your persistence, your confidence, and your faith, he will be moved with compassion.
You can make a real difference. Your prayers can move Jesus’ own heart. That’s the promise of today’s Gospel—a promise that God wants you to never forget.
“Jesus, I bring my loved ones into your presence. I believe that you can change everything.”
1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22