Lectionary texts: 2 Kings 5:1-14, Psalm 30, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1:40-45
So he turned and left in a rage.
But his servants approached and said to him, â€œMy father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it when he tells you, â€˜Wash and be cleanâ€™?â€ So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God. Then his skin was restored and became like the skin of a small boy, and he was clean. Â Â 2 Kings 5:12-14 (HCSB)
After Jesus strictly warned the man, he sent him on his way.He said, “Don’t tell anyone about this..â€
The man talked about it so much and told so many people, that Jesus could no longer go openly into a town. He had to stay away from the towns, but people still came to him from everywhere. Â Â Â Â Â Â Mark 1:43-45 (CEV)
The #1 obstacle to my prayer life is that I do not prioritize and make the time in my life. The #2 obstacle is that I limit God’s answers. And that is what He is speaking to me about in these Scriptures.
In the Old Testament passage, Naaman has leprosy. He was a commander in the army but he had a wasting, terminal disease. His servants suggest he go to a prophet in Israel, Elisha. And Elisha gives him a perscription from God â€“ â€œgo dip yourself in the Jordan seven timesâ€. Elisha doesn’t deliver the message in person. He doesn’t put his hands on Naaman. He doesn’t pray over him, evoking the Lord’s name. Naaman is not happy. He expected some personal service that included a prayer and maybe some anointing oil! Not dipping in a little known river.
In the New Testament passage, Jesus heals a man who is also not sure about Jesus. He asks to be healed if Jesus is willing. Jesus’ response was immediate and the man was healed. But Jesus told the man not to tell anyone. The man did not obey. He told everyone. It was a great thing! It was something to celebrate! Why not tell everyone? Wouldn’t that be giving credit where it was due? Wouldn’t that be the expected response to God answering a prayer?
In both stories, expectations of the person did not match God’s response and plan. I am left wondering what was the point of bringing about a healing with river-dipping instead of prayer and anointing oil? Why keep God’s answered prayer of healing the second man? It’s possible, in the New Testament case, that Jesus might have been able to minister in some ways if He had been less popular. I don’t know.
Since God has a different view of my life and His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:5), there will be many times that I do not understand His answer to my prayers or His commands in my life. The question is: Will I obey? If the answer that I hear lines up with the character of God that I know through His Word and our relationship, then do I trust Him and obey when I cannot see? If I have doubts, do I continue to press in to Him and pray with trusted brothers and sisters?
LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
LORD, You brought me up from Sheol;
You spared me from among those going down to the Pit.
Sing to Yahweh, you His faithful ones, and praise His holy name.
For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning. Â Â Psalm 30:2-5 (HCSB)
Let us grow in our trust of God. In obedience we find extraordinary moments of intimacy and peace because no matter what may come, Jesus is here.