Who were these four men? Were they family members? The paralytic’s friends? Or compassionate passersbys, good Samaritans? Scripture doesn’t tell us. But this is one of my favorite mental images for praying on behalf of others or for seeking prayer on my own behalf. Whenever someone else is in desperate need of prayer, in desperate need of God’s action or God’s calming stillness in their lives, I picture myself as one of the people lowering them through the roof into the presence of Jesus.
I even tell the Lord, “I am lowering so-and-so through the roof right into the midst of your presence.” And when people pray for me, when they cry out on my behalf, I think, “I am being lowered through the roof.” It’s like Hebrews 4 talks about…going boldly to the throne of grace. What is interesting about this passage are the words, “When Jesus saw their faith.” Whose faith? The faith of the four men, or the faith of the five (including the paralytic’s)?
Whatever the reference, the faith of the four is included. Isn’t it true that sometimes, we are so weary, so full of despair, and so disoriented that we can barely utter a prayer? We are paralyzed by the enemy’s posionous and fiery darts, even though we’ve tried to stand our ground with the full armor of God on. Maybe we’ve missed something, overlooked a sin. Or maybe we’re just being attacked–suffering because of the problem of evil. Like Job, we suffer not because of our own sins.
It is in moments like these that we need to summon our friends or acquaintences. We need to summon the prayers of the Church so that we may be lowered through the roof. There is something about the faith of friends, or the faith of the compassionate passerby or acquaintence that God notices. This passage tells us so.
So if you feel battered and hopeless, if you feel like the darkness is consuming you, or if you feel battle weary, let some people know. Let them pray for you, let them lower you through the roof. God notices.
Many times the prayer of friends and family, and even the prayers of those I am not aware of have saved my life. I am not overstating the case.
God’s Shalom to you brothers and sisters. Pass the peace.