A few years ago a close friend who had been battling cancer for more than four years had a massive brain hemorrhage. He could not pray for himself or take other action, but his family and friends gathered around his hospital bed praying with him and for him, singing his favorite hymns, reading his favorite Bible verses and leading him into the arms of God the Father who was waiting for him. Instead of lying in a comatose state indefinitely after years of suffering, his family and friends escorted him to the Father. He had led a long and fruitful life loving God and serving his family, friends, and others. What a glorious day it was for him AND us who were privileged to be present exercising our faith on his behalf.
The Gospel of Luke reports the story of some friends of a paralytic who were trying to bring him to Jesus on a stretcher so that Jesus could heal him. When they arrived at the house where Jesus was teaching, they could not get in because of the crowd. So they took him up on the roof, removed the tiles and lowered him down on his stretcher into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw the faith of his friends and the extraordinary effort they went to get him in front of Jesus, he both forgave the paralytic his sins and healed his paralysis. (Luke 5:17-26)
Luke’s account of this event indicates that Jesus did this not because of the paralytic’s faith, but the faith of his friends and the extreme efforts they undertook to get him to Jesus.
This is a good example of how we can exercise our faith on behalf of another to bring the Lord’s presence, healing and forgiveness. Sometimes a person cannot act on his or her own faith, or take the kind of action that may be necessary. While we don’t know anything about whether the paralytic had faith in this story, it does not appear that he would have been able to act on this faith without the help of his friends.
Jesus healed others on behalf of the request and faith of family and friends. He healed the servant of a centurion who believed that Jesus could do this simply by saying the word without even coming to pray over the servant. (Mt. 5:5-13) Others were healed based on the faith of a parent — Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21-43); and the royal official’s son in Capernaum. (John 4:43-54) We should never underestimate the power of our faith to bring God’s presence to others.
Is there someone in your life who needs you to exercise your faith on their behalf?