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The Prayers of Bethany

Jesus had friends in a place called Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem. The Gospels relate at least a couple of times when Jesus visited sisters Martha and Mary and their brother, Lazarus.

On one occasion when Jesus visited, Martha was beside herself with chores and preparations to feed Jesus and his disciples. She complained to Jesus about her sister’s lack of help. Jesus told her that Mary had chosen well as she spent her time at his feet listening to the Master.

Another time was after Lazarus had died. Jesus was called to come be with the family due to his illness. But Jesus arrived after Lazarus had been in the grave several days. The sisters took issue with Jesus’s late arrival, but he encouraged them to have faith. Jesus had a reason for his delay. Jesus wept and prayed but then he called Lazarus to come forth from the grave and Lazarus returned to life on earth. Jesus then proclaimed these amazing words, “I am the Resurrection and Life.”

These three siblings and Jesus offer us lessons in prayer—sitting at the feet of Jesus, depending on the power of God, and just being ourselves in relationship with the Father. As we consider their examples, it becomes easy to reflect on my own prayer life and how I can connect with each one at times.

Martha’s prayer can be reflected in my heart cry—“Lord, I am beaten down by life; send someone to help me!”

Mary’s prayer is one that encourages me in worship—“Lord, I love being in your presence. Speak, I am listening.”

Even Lazarus’s prayer erupts periodically—“Lord, without you I am dead!”

I could spend time discussing even more important aspects of these prayers, but I simply want to suggest that we spend some time looking into them to see how they might speak into our hearts. Each of the prayers is genuine. They are from the hearts of the regular people of Bethany. Take your heart to Jesus in prayer! Then, perhaps, like the simple prayer of Jesus and the Bethany siblings, our simple prayers, full of faith in the Father, will be life- giving for ourselves and those around us who need Jesus’s special touch.

Merle Clowe Pastoral Team (Education)


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