And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” — Matthew 8:2-3, ESV
Let me stop some of you who may read this before I go any further: I believe in prayer. I believe in requesting things of God. I believe that he wants and loves to hear us ask of him (see Matthew 7:7-11). So do not stop asking—even pleading and begging when appropriate. But I wonder if the leprous man was on to something in the way that he “requested” of Jesus to be healed.
He came to Jesus. That’s always the first step. It’s not enough to sit back and know that Jesus can do something if he wants. We have to go to Jesus with what we are facing. Of course Jesus knew that the man had leprosy. He knew everything about this man, but the man still had to come to him.
He knelt before Jesus. We need to remember our place. To stand in the face of God and demand his working or else, is to forget our place and to ignore his glory. I have no right to demand anything of God. I don’t even have the right to talk to God. He makes that possible. I kneel before God as a symbol of my humility before him, knowing that he is God and I am not.
“If you will, you can make me clean.” Notice what the man did. First, he acknowledged the fact that Jesus had a purpose. If you will is an acknowledgement that Jesus has a will—a plan and desire—to accomplish things according to his perspective. Second, the man declared that Jesus’ could heal him. The man knew that Jesus had the ability to heal him if he wanted to. There was no question about that. He was sure of Christ’s ability.
When I pray, I ask. And I’m allowed to do that. But how often do I ask and not see that thing happen and wonder if God heard me. So it’s possible for me to feel “let down” if God doesn’t do what I “request” of him. But, when I submit to God’s will by declaring his ability to heal or to help, while acknowledging that he has a plan and purpose in everything, I am able to release the request and the outcome to him, according to his plans and desires. It doesn’t mean I stop asking, unless of course he tells me “no,” but it brings me in line with his will instead of demanding that he submit to mine.
So, I want to start a new way of “requesting” from God. I want to declare his ability while submitting to his prerogative and will. I want to say, “Jesus, if you want to, I know that you can…” and leave it to him. I will keep asking. I will keep begging when it’s necessary, but I will always declare his ability while submitting to his purpose.