By Randall A. Bach
The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed”(Mark 5:40-42, NLT)
They laughed at Jesus! It is one thing to disagree with someone or to have sincere doubt, but laughing in someone’s face is a deflating indignity. Why did the crowd laugh? Because Jesus had just explained that Jairus’ daughter, verified as dead, was but asleep, at least in Jesus’ eyes.
Only one chapter later, when Jesus went back home to Nazareth for a visit, word of the wonders He had performed preceded Him, and people flocked to Him in the hope of receiving healing and other miracles. Verse 5 of chapter 6 records, “Because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.” This was not you or me disappointed to find people were not healed when we prayed for them; this was Jesus! The explanation for this failure is found in that same verse: “because of their unbelief.” Thud!
Look at the connection between those two scenarios. In one, the crowd laughed at Jesus when He explained that a child who the people understood to be dead was, in His view, but asleep and would be awakened upon His declaring it so. In the second instance, the people were so resistant, beyond a lack of faith, with a determined unbelief, that Jesus, the Son of God, could perform few miracles. We are observing an important concept in these verses.
We should welcome everyone to join us in prayer about needs, whether large or small. We believe in the power of prayer! Corporate prayer not only activates power that is promised to us in the name of Jesus, it also ministers to people who may be struggling in their faith or have their own unspoken needs. All people should be drawn into prayer because of what prayer does in and through participants. However, these verses make clear that when you desperately need some serious prayer work accomplished, when there are critical needs, you need to get the right people in the room.
Only after Jesus had cleared the room of the scoffers and was alone with His closest disciples, his closest circle, did He tell the girl to arise. And after the jarring experience in Nazareth, Jesus traveled to other regions where faith was not checkmated by unbelief. He had to get the right people in the room!
There are levels of prayer and circles of praying people. In the outside circle are people who technically believe in prayer and politely join in when you pray. They are not the derisive crowd locked in the hold of contemptuous unbelief. In the next circle inward are people who believe in prayer but have little experience in getting ahold of God through prayer. They do not add their prayer to others; rather, they are carried by the faith of others. And then there are the people in the very inner circle, the ones who passionately believe in the power of prayer. They may be quiet. They may not draw attention to themselves. But they know how to humbly touch the throne of God.
To them the Lord is not a distant stranger; the Holy Spirit is their companion. They long for the power of God but do not try to hype the appearance of His power on their own. The only shows they are interested in are those originated by and controlled by God. The Word is their strength. They believe in God. They believe in you. They care about you. And they know how to pray. They don’t easily give up or become discouraged. They are also spiritually mature in understanding that there are times when, in spite of praying in faith, God has a different answer than our preferred one. They are not discouraged at those times because their faith and trust in the Lord are so anchored in their souls. They never question or doubt the sovereignty of God.
Make room for everyone to join in prayer. Corporate prayer is a learning lab for many. It is where we can learn about and begin to experience the power of joining our faith with others in prayer. Growing in prayer is a process. But there are times when you need a real miracle or answer to a serious challenge that you need to invite a select inner circle of people who will stand with you in prayer, without doubts, in simple and unfettered faith. That is when you need to get the right people in the room.
About the Author
Randall A. Bach delights in opportunities to serve the Lord, including his current assignment as president of Open Bible Churches. He earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Regent University. Randall and Barbara, his wife, have been in ministry almost as long as they have been married. They are grateful to have celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2021. Randall loves the church, pastors, and church leaders and is convinced that God loves to work through them to make disciples, develop leaders, and plant churches. A voice for Evangelicals, his work has been featured in several publications, including Ethics: The Old Testament, The New Testament, and Contemporary Application. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the National Association of Evangelicals. Randall has produced and edited several publications and other resources, including the Message of the Open Bible, We Believe: Core Truths for Christian Living, and a doctrinal course for youth called We Believe for Kids! He also led the creation of ACQUIRE, Open Bible’s online leadership development site.