Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
As I read the story of Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus (His name was Bartimaeus bar Timaeus? Oi.), my attention was arrested by this verse. I have recently been reading Andrew Murray’s The Ministry of Intercession A Plea for More Prayer and the chapter I began yesterday is on importunity — what we would likely think of as persistence. Murray takes as examples Jesus’ parables of the widow who comes to unjust judge and the neighbor who asks his neighbor for bread at midnight. Both parables include the lesson of persistence. But this very real occurrence in the life of Christ — and of Bartimaeus — also illustrates the concept beautifully and adds in something that the parables do not necessarily capture, viz., there is often opposition to our prayers.
Bartimaeus had to overcome several obstacles to be heard by Christ.
First, he had to overcome his lack of sight. He did not know Who was passing his way unless someone told him or he could glean it from the din of the crowd. In the passage, Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus (v47) passing his way and he began to make his plea for Christ to turn his way. The passage leaves it unclear as to whether Bartimaeus heard it by way of tidbits he gleaned from the crowd’s clamor or if someone told him. Regardless of the how, the result was that Bartimaeus began to pray. This leads to my first application. I need to pray when the time is right. And the right time is any time.
Second, he had to overcome to din of the crowd. Scripture is clear in recounting that Jesus was thronged everywhere He went. He was often in so dense a crowd that it would have been impossible to separate out who was touching Him at any given moment (reference the healing of the woman with the twelve year hemorrhage). Bartimaeus is one more voice trying to be heard among all the others. The result is that he is heard. Not only does Jesus hear Bartimaeus, but Jesus tells those who had been shushing him only moments before to bring him over. Application number two: Jesus can hear me no matter how loud life seems or how unlikely it seems to be that He will. Not only does He hear, but He takes action.
Third, he had to overcome those who were trying to stop him. This morning’s verse says that many were sternly telling him to be quiet. His words; his pleas were not for the crowd, but for the One around Whom the crowd had gathered. So he got louder. Perhaps he got louder so he could be heard over those who were shushing him. Perhaps he shouted all the more because he wanted it to be clear that they were not his intended audience. Perhaps he got louder because he was having trouble hearing his own words over their objections to his prayer and he wanted to make sure that Jesus could hear him. Regardless of the why, Bartimaeus’ response to objectors and opposition was to redouble his efforts. The louder those who tried to silence him, the louder his cries. This brings me to application number three: opposition should spur me on to still more fervent prayer. God hears. Jesus heard Bartimaeus over the din of the crowd. God can hear me over the susurrus of the world.
The right time to pray is whenever I feel an urge to pray. I know that God hears me when I pray, because He has promised that He will and has proven His promise true. And opposition should and must spur me on to more fervent prayer if I am to pray rightly. My words are not for the crowd, but for my God and Father. Let me treat them as such and make every effort to get those words to their intended Audience.