July 24, 2020
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
When was the last time you had a prayer answered? In these few verses, we see an answered prayer, and lots of people who somehow miss what God is doing. The first to miss it is the invalid himself. Jesus offers to heal him (in the form of a question, but an offer, nonetheless). The invalid responds with all the reasons his healing can’t be accomplished. Despite his response, Jesus does heal him.
Next, the pharisees miss what God is doing. An invalid who has been paralyzed for 38 years is suddenly healed. The pharisees notice him walking around and instead of seeing a miracle, they say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. You can’t carry that mat around today!”
From our comfortable chairs, 2,000 years later, it’s easy to see (and judge) how easily God’s miraculous acts were missed. But let’s go back to our initial question. When is the last time you saw an answered prayer? The problem in this story, and in our lives right now, is that answered prayers don’t always look like we expect. The invalid thought his only opportunity for healing was by getting into the pool. The pharisees thought that the way to obtain favor and blessing was to obey all the rules. Do those two tendencies sound familiar? Have you ever questioned why God wasn’t giving you exactly what you asked for, only to see in hindsight that he was answering your prayer in a totally different way? Or have you ever felt unjustly punished by circumstance despite working really hard to follow all the “rules”?
Today, as you make requests of God, include the following question:
God, how are you answering this prayer?
Then, spend some time listening and watching to see what God is doing.