“And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he [blind Bartimaeus] cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called…” – Mark 10:48-49
As Jesus passed through Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus cried after the Lord to have mercy on him and heal him. Jesus did not answer him at first and those in Jesus’ crowd told Bartimaeus to hold his peace, to be quiet, to which he responded by crying even more. Jesus took note of the tenacity and persistence of Bartimaeus’ petition. Jesus “stood still” and heard the cries of this beggar. Even when our prayers might not seem to be “getting through” to the Lord, we can always know that Jesus “stands still” to take note of the cries of his children.
Bartimaeus seems to have been causing a bit of a scene here outside Jericho. He couldn’t see where Jesus was due to his blindness, so he cried aloud for Jesus, hoping to just catch his attention. However, initially, the attention he caught was not from Jesus but from the disciples and many others who told him to be quiet, to hold his peace, to not bother the Master with the trivial (to them) problems of this man. After all, Jesus had important tasks to do (remember he was just days away from dying on the cross for our sins), and the disciples surely didn’t think he had time for a lowly, blind beggar. However, that discouragement and antagonism from the crowd did not deter Bartimaeus; instead, he cried even the more and even louder, and Jesus Christ took special note of his petition.
Jesus paused his journey; he stopped his task and what he was doing at that moment to “stand still” and help this poor beggar, no doubt one of his elect children. Sometimes when we cry out so persistently to the Lord and don’t see the immediate answer to our prayers, we might begin to think those efforts are futile; we might begin to think our prayers aren’t even getting above the ceiling, and what’s it worth anyhow? However, here we see that Jesus takes special note and consideration to hear the prayer of Bartimaeus. He stood still to hear his petition and eventually, a few verses later, he heals blind Bartimaeus. Just as Jesus taught by the widow who petitioned the unjust judge persistently (Luke 18:1-10), men ought always to pray and not to faint. Don’t give up praying just because we don’t see the immediate results we expect, but instead ask the more, follow the pattern of persistency established by blind Bartimaeus.
Jesus “stood still” to hear the cries and petition of one of his little sheep. In like manner, we see a glimpse into the special consideration the prayers of the saints are given in heaven. “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was a silence in heaven about the space of half an hour… And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came up with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” (Rev. 8:1-4) In the midst of all the seemingly “cataclysmic” events in Revelation, there is a brief pause, a period of silence for half an hour (a brief period of time). What was the cause of this “moment of silence” in heaven? This silence was to observe and listen to the prayers of the saints ascending before God as an incense and sweet-smelling savor before the Lord. In the midst of all the “hustle and bustle of heaven”, there is a period of silence where the prayers of God’s saints are given special consideration and attention before the Lord. Don’t ever think your prayers are unnoticed or overlooked by the Lord. Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Also, the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered by mortal men (Rom. 8:26-27). Yes, God does hear our prayers; just because the answer to those prayers is not always an immediate yes, does not means that the Lord has accidentally overlooked your heartfelt petition unto him. Instead, what a glorious depiction to know that all of heaven actually stops to have perfect silence so they can hear the prayers of the saints perfectly.
We live in a “vending machine” immediate gratification culture. I put my money in, and I immediately get out what I want out of the vending machine. We get used to that immediate gratification in our natural lives, and sometimes incorrectly translate that to our spiritual lives. We did our part; we prayed our prayer; now it’s up to God to keep his end of the bargain and give me what I asked for. May we never forget, God is God, and we are not. He does things on his timetable, not on our timetable. We cannot obligate God to serve us just by our prayers. Instead, we humbly petition the mercy of God upon unworthy sinners, just like blind Bartimaeus. Even though we don’t fully understand why our prayers might seem to us to go unanswered in the short term, we know that God “hath made every thing beautiful in his time” (Eccl. 3:11). Don’t let our prayers be discouraged if the answer seems to be silence, but instead follow the example of blind Bartimaeus and cry even the more unto the Lord for our help in time of need. Jesus lives to hear and answer our prayers, and both Christ and all of heaven “stand still” to hear our prayers unto him.
The Heavens Still to Listen (Songs of Zion Hymnal, verses 1,3,6 & Chorus)
A silence falls o’er heaven, O what could still the scene?
The prayer of one poor sinner has come before the King.
He pauses not for kings and queens, Nor processions formed by man,
But at the cry of one elect will silence glory land.
Oh, does your faith seem small and weak, And burdens hard to bear?
Pour out your soul before the throne, He lives to answer prayer.
Pour out your soul to God, Even Jesus prayed this way.
The heavens still to listen, When saints begin to pray.
Originally published September 2018