Tag Archives: desperate


He fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Luke 5:12).

Willing?  Jesus, are you willing to heal me?  The guy was desperate.  He was covered with leprosy–a terminal case.  His condition was hopeless.  Lepers were untouchables.  So he was ostracized.   An outcast.  Jesus was his last ditch effort.  Face in the dirt, he crushes any remnant of pride…and begs.  The plea is to the point. Just ten words. “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus answers in half as many words and ignites a miracle.  “I am willing.  Be clean!”

Let’s take a minute to meditate on this short passage in a different translation:

While he was in one of the towns, Jesus came upon a man who was a mass of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he prostrated himself before him and begged, “If you want to, Lord, you can make me clean.”

Jesus stretched out his hand, placed it on the leper, saying, “Certainly I want to. Be clean!”  (Luke 5:12, 13  J.B. Phillips).

Notice that Phillips uses the word “want” instead of “willing.”  The  word in the Greek, thelo can mean “want, will, desire,” or even “wish”  Thelo also indicates a “pressing on to action.”  Jesus not only wanted to and was willing to heal the guy. He executed.  Without hesitation.

The leper’s plea can be considered a prayer.   The word, “beg,” or deomai, describes a specific, urgent prayer.  The answer came swiftly.  His desperate cry for healing was consistent with the will of God for that man in that moment.  Alignment with God’s will is a vital component of prayer, as Jesus taught His disciples in”The Lord’s Prayer:”

Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10).

In the original language, this prayer is more of a demand than a request .  It is better translated:  “Kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as in heaven!”  God’s will is done perfectly in heaven–so heaven becomes the model for our earthly prayers. It’s as if Jesus wants us to shake our fist and shout a bit as we claim God’s will to be done on an earth still crawling with enemies.

My short answer on how to know God’s will is this: Read His Word.  Saturate your heart daily. Grow so close to your Good Shepherd that you know His will, obey His will, pray His will.  This is called abiding and is the secret to a power-filled prayer life.  Are you willing?



The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 NIV) 

Work!  I work hard at prayer because I believe prayer works.  And God works in response to prayer. The tension between how God’s sovereign will and my prayer work together is a mystery to me.  But James is clear.  Prayer is to be our first response in all of life’s situations.  More than a gesture of piety, prayer is productive.  It actually accomplishes something…prayer works.

So just how does prayer work? And what are the conditions for power-filled, hard working prayers?  James gives us the key. He has already talked about how the “prayer of faith” will heal the sick.  But now he raises the bar.  It’s the prayer of faith offered by the “righteous” that really works bestt:

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 NIV) 

Let’s pause a moment. If we glance over this verse too quickly, we can leave weighed down with the feeling that we have to be “good enough” to earn answers to our prayers.  Nothing could be further from the truth. A “worksbased” prayer prescription is not at all what James intended.  But we must look closely at this verse to absorb its powerful message.

FIrst, James would have us be thoroughly grounded in the biblical concept of “righteousness.”  What we could never do for ourselves, God did for us through the expansive work of the cross. And it’s by faith we access that free gift.  “We’re saved by grace through faith, and not our works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8).   Even the Old Testament saints were made “just through faith,” a concept that could never be grasped by the works-obsessed Pharisees.

Second, let’s look at the Greek word for “prayer” as it’s used in this verse.  Deesis, a different form of prayer than James previously described, is an urgent prayer.   The word actually comes from a word that means “to be impoverished.”  This kind of desperate prayer is really more akin to begging.  When you pray in this way, you are coming “needy” to God.  A sinner, saved by grace, wearing Christ’s robe of righteousness, approaching God as a beggar with a great need, coming in bold faith that He can do anything? That’s the kind of prayer James is talking about here.

The result?  The verse tells us this kind of prayer is powerful and effective.  The word “powerful” means mega-power…prayer on steroids.  Power-prayer.

The word “effective,” or energeo,  gives us the word “energy.” It means to “set in motion; to cause something to happen.”  This kind of prayer is quite active. It gets results.  In short, it works.

James wants to shake us free from lazy prayers and low expectations.  Old “camel knees” knew the extraordinary power available through prayer.  He wants us to know this power, too.

Lord, I come boldly to You today in prayer, made confident only because of my righteousness in YOU.  And because I have faith in what You can do, though my neediness is ever before me, I can expect great things through prayer.  Give me a steadfast heart to pray and believe the promises in Your Word.  Give me alertness to watch for signs of You at work.  And And when I notice the answers to prayer (and even when I am still waiting), help me remember to give glorious praise and thanks to You.  -Amen