There’s a phrase that the Quakers use when they want to tell someone that they’re praying for them continually–“I will hold you in the light.”Grace Anne, @totallygraced, Instagram post (underlining added)
I read these words during the latter half of 2021, and I’ve been falling more and more in love with them.
I’m beginning to try to hold people in the light.
Not always praying–at least not in the sense that I sit down and close my eyes and think/say words, asking God to heal them or work out their problem or guide them or help them grow or protect them physically/spiritually/mentally/emotionally or whatever.
I want to do that too, to do better at it.
But I also want to be like the four friends who brought their friend with palsy to Jesus.
I recently began reading through the Gospels through the lens of prayers made to Jesus and what I can learn from them.
When I read the beginning of Matthew 9, I realized for perhaps the first time that it was a prayer.
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed:Matthew 9:2 (KJV)
and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy;
Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
It’s not recorded that they ever spoke, ever “said a prayer,” ever told Jesus what they wanted, ever asked Him for help/healing–nothing.
Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 5:18-25 all record the story, and Luke says that after the man was healed, he “departed to his own house, glorifying God.”
But that’s all.
There were no fancy words, no repeated petitions. It was an unspoken prayer.
They simply brought their friend to Jesus and placed him at His feet.
Yes, they ripped up the roof to get there, and I could talk about that, about how sometimes–maybe oftentimes–you need to work and fight to “bring your friend to Jesus,” how you should love enough to go the extra mile and raise a ruckus if need be, etc.
But I keep seeing in my head these four desperate, dedicated men carrying their friend and gently, pleadingly placing him at the feet of Jesus. Maybe they hold out empty, longing hands. Maybe tears trickle down their faces; maybe they’re full-on sobbing. Maybe they don’t know what to say. Maybe the emotion is too great, scrambling their brains, clogging their throats, wiping out any words. Maybe they feel just as helpless as their paralyzed friend.
And I sit here crying, because I’ve felt that, at least a taste.
But notice what it says in the verse above. In the very same verse with the unspoken prayer, the bringing and placing at the feet of Jesus–is the answer to the prayer.
It wasn’t exactly the answer they were looking for; that would come a bit later. No, Jesus started with the more important, the more needed, thing: “your sins are forgiven.”
He did heal him physically, but He also healed him spiritually. He answered in such a powerful, loving, generous way!
And I think of this story and that Quaker phrase and how Jesus is the Light, and I fall in love and cry even more.
So if I ever say that phrase to you, I hope you understand.
I am praying for you, even if the prayers are unspoken, even if there are no words. I am bringing you to Jesus and placing you at His feet. I am perhaps–quite possibly–crying.
I am holding you in the Light.
P.S. I was listening to music while writing, and part of the song that played as I wrote the paragraphs about crying proclaimed jubilantly:
though weeping may spend the nightJesse and Leah Roberts, aka Poor Bishop Hooper, “Psalm 30”
there’ll be joy in the morning
you turned my mourning on into dancing
you stole my clothes of ash
and robed me in gladness
I just thought that was wonderful and went so well with what I was writing and what came next. 🥲🥰