Finding Your Prayer Priority
In today’s Gospel (Mark 2:1-12), we see one of the most radical leaps of faith in scripture. A group of friends literally break through the roof above Jesus’ head to reach Jesus so that he can heal their friend, who is paralyzed. The paralyzed man and his friends are bold and brazen in their faith, certain that if they can only reach Jesus, he will surely help them. Theirs is a faith that is not only strengthened by their sense of community, but also action-oriented: they believe in Jesus, and they do everything imaginable to reach him.
In response to this, Jesus does something surprising. Upon seeing the paralyzed man, he simply says, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Interestingly, the Gospel does not mention anything to us about the paralytic’s desires. It is easy to assume that he wanted to be cured of paralysis, but it is also logical to think that he, as a man of faith, would desire forgiveness of sins more than anything. Perhaps this forgiveness is exactly what he sought from Jesus, and that is why he wanted so much to get close to him.
But the forgiveness of sins is not as visible to the human eye as a miraculous cure. To show the doubtful scribes that he has authority, Jesus also heals the paralytic of his ailment. In doing so, he implies that it is actually more miraculous to forgive sins than to heal bodily ailments. Forgiveness of sins has to do with the state of our souls. The implications of sins on our souls are eternal, while physical ailments are not.
In our own prayer lives, what do we prioritize? Do we ask for healing in passing matters, or do we ask for the eternal healing of our souls? Of course, these are not mutually exclusive. It is healthy and natural to pray for things like cures, and God wants us to bring our cares and worries to him. But we should not limit our prayer to physical needs or wants. It is important to always pray for grace and faith, and to ask for forgiveness of our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross saves us from sin—and this is the greatest miracle of all.