How Should I Pray?

Talitha, Koum. That’s the phrase that came to mind one morning as I listened for a reply to my question, “How should I pray for my friend’s situation?” Searching the Gospels, I found the phrase in Mark 5:21-43. “Ah, yes,” I thought, “That is what Jesus said to Jairus’s 12 year old daughter.” Taking time to reflect on that passage, the parallels to what was transpiring in my friend’s life were striking.

In the quietness of those moments, Habakkuk 3:2 came to mind. “God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you, and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees. Do among us what you did among them. Work among us as you worked among them…” (MSG). Grateful for the Holy Spirit’s direction, I began to intercede for this precious family. As I prayed, faith-fueled hope bubbled up so much so that it unexpectedly overflowed into some “Jairus’s daughter” circumstances in my own life.

In Mark 5, we learn that Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, was afraid that his daughter was dying. Approaching Jesus, he asked Him to come to his home and heal her. While on the way, Jesus stopped and healed the woman with the issue of blood. Talk about a recipe for angst: urgent crises and unanticipated waiting. Oh what grace rested on Jairus to not utter desperate pleas of “Can’t You hurry up?”

In His gentleness, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the many unspoken “Can’t You hurry up?” prayers I had uttered in my own angst. Out of His love, He also exposed the subtle disappointment that rode in on the coat-tails of those prayers. Here Jesus was working so mightily in other people’s circumstances, and yet, here I stood, waiting to see God move in my own. Can you relate?

Imagine the dismay, then, when Jairus receives the report from home, “Your daughter is dead. There is no need to bother the teacher anymore.” What a crushing blow. “Give it up, Jairus. It’s over. It’s done. It is too late. What you were hoping for is never going to come to pass. Don’t waste any more of the guy’s time.” Let me ask again, can you relate?

The story continues indicating that, “Jesus paid no attention to what they said” (verse 36). Instead, He comforted Jairus saying, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Incredibly, Jesus made another extraordinary statement at Jairus’s house announcing, “The child is not dead, only asleep.”

Those consoling and yet audacious words sank into my heart. Would you let them saturate yours? You see, what if the final word has not been spoken about your situation? What if it’s not “over”? What if it’s not “done”? What if it’s not “too late”? Could it be that the omnipotent One who pays no attention to the anxious reports of humans, is saying to you and me right now, “Don’t be afraid; just believe… The child is not dead, only asleep”?

Would you be open to consider that the very thing you thought was dead may only be sleeping? Maybe Jesus wants to speak, “Talitha, koum” to long-neglected skills that were once finely-honed. Maybe “Talitha, koum” is to be spoken to the aborted vision for that empty plot of land.” To the abandoned idea for that book, “Talitha, koum!” And maybe even to ‘that’ relationship, “Talitha, koum!” Hear the Spirit whisper to you in your own situation, “Don’t be afraid; just believe… The child is not dead, only asleep”?

In an act of lavish love, Jesus took Jairus and his wife up to the room. “Taking hold of the girl’s hand, he said to her, ‘Talitha, koum!’, (This means, ‘Young girl, I tell you to stand up!’). At once the girl stood right up and began walking. (She was twelve years old.) Everyone was completely amazed.”

While we join with the daughter’s parents in amazement at God’s resurrecting power, the question that soon arises is, “What do we do now?” Our next steps are as simple as Jesus’s instruction to Jairus and his wife, “give the girl something to eat.” Nurture and provide for that which was resurrected. Pull out that instrument, prayer-walk the perimeter of that empty lot. Jot down some of your thoughts. Pray for an open door of conversation. I believe God will give you the strength for the next step.

Would you receive God’s grace today? What He spoke to Isaiah, He speaks to us, “Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me” (30:15 MSG).

“Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21 [AMP].

Image attribution: Ingram Publishing / Thinkstock

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Jonathan travels as a worship leader, choir clinician, and conference and retreat speaker. His passion is to build a legacy of encouragement living out his life verse, "The sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary" (Isaiah 50:4). Jonathan also is a blogger who seeks to capture everyday experiences where the Eternal divinely intersects the temporal. You can find his blogs at jonathancdow.com. In addition to traveling in worship ministry, Jonathan serves part-time as Director of Music for Matthews Memorial UMC in Madison, TN.

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