One of the bible stories that always struck me was the story of the man with leprosy meeting Jesus, in the gospel of Matthew and Luke. The leper, the unclean, the outcast, must have heard about Jesus and believed in His words. Filled with hope and in desperation, when he met Jesus face to face, he fell down, worshipped and cried out “… Lord, if You are willing, you can make me clean.” Before Jesus spoke, He put forth His hand and touched the man. The hand that would calm the sea, raise the dead and eventually be nailed to the cross was put forth to the man. And following that touch was the spoken word made flesh “… I am willing, be clean.”
In this short encounter with Jesus, a desperate but believing and non-demanding man received his healing. The leper, the one who had been rejected numerous times, probably thought he was not good enough to receive mercy, received His immediate blessing. While imagining how grateful and joyful the leper must be, I am reminded that the compassionate and gracious God who responded to the poor leper centuries ago is the same God we are believing today. He is the same God who sees all our needs and hears all our cries, He is still the “ I am willing” God… I then need to ask myself, what is the posture of my heart when I come to Him in prayer?
The leper came with a submissive, humble and expectant heart. A heart open to Jesus, believing that Jesus has the power and authority to heal or to withhold physical healing. In his cry, the Lord hears his helplessness, his pain and his needs. He sees his broken spirit, his contrite and humble heart. That is what I am asking myself when I reflect on the posture of my heart. Prayer can become such a routine thing that it loses one of the most important elements: a sincere, submissive and humble heart to the Lord.
I confess. Truly there is a condition in the heart where all evil resides. My heart is full of selfishness, pride and residue. There were so many times where my heart turned sour and bitter, when my longings and desires were not met, complaining and grumbling were my response to His “unfairness”. But who am I to determine fairness? Is it not the One who was just and merciful, who extended His grace to me and crowned me a child of God?
I am thankful that the posture of the leper reminded me to examine my heart. Jesus is the Great Physician and He can heal all my selfishness and pride if I allow His grace to penetrate to the depths of my soul. Laying down all the requests and desires before Him, not complaining or grumbling when prayers are not answered in my way and by my timeline. Coming with an open, submissive and expectant heart, crying out to the Lord like the leper, “Lord, if You are willing, You can…”, and trusting in Him who knows what is the best for me.
Everything we do flows from our heart (Prov 4:23). When we pray, may our hearts always be bowed in adoration, gratitude, and humility to our loving God, with an open and submissive posture, knowing that God is gracious and merciful, His ears are always attentive to the prayers of His people and He is always willing to answer our prayers.
By sister Melody Chen