Bits And Pieces
The Jairus Prayer
The Jairus Prayer
(Read Mark 5:21-43)
Pastor Jack Carter was the new minister at Cove Point
before he was unpacked, there was a knock on his study door
opened it and there stood Mrs. Alyce, one of the church
invited her inside. "Sorry for the mess," he apologized. He
really ready for "business" but had learned over the years
seldom was ready. Seminary was great and he enjoyed it. But
prepared him for the myriad circumstances and needs that
arose in the real world of the parish.
Without saying a word, Mrs. Alyce came in and sat down.
took a box of books off the seat of a chair and sat across
"What can I do for you?" he asked.
elderly lady sat there for a moment, her clear blue eyes
pastor's face as if trying to decide if she was doing the
thing or if she had found someone at long last who might be
Pastor Carter reached over and gently patted her hand.
"What's on your
mind, Mrs. Alyce? I am here for you," he said softly.
Taking that as a sign, the woman began to speak. "I am sorry
coming to you when you haven't even unpacked your things,"
looking around at the boxes.
apology necessary," he reassured her.
nodded her head and looked out the window for a moment. He
also and saw that she was gazing at a small white house just
"Bill lives there," she said.
"Yes, he's my son and a member of the church. But he hasn't
Pastor Carter knew where this was going. It had happened in
his pastorates. It was a kind-of rite of passage for new
members asking if there might be something he or she could
bring usually long lost sheep back into the fold. But he
prepared for what she was about to tell him.
"Bill is a good man," she continued at last. "But he needs
tears came into her eyes.
pastor let her compose herself and then asked, "What kind of
does he need?"
woman looked at him again. There was such pain in her eyes.
obviously wasn't the only one in need.
"It's a long story," she began. "Twelve years ago something
Bill hasn't been the same. It's as if he is dying. or
then she began to sob.
Pastor Carter looked around and found a box of tissues that
kept in his office, which he had learned over the years to
essential pastoral supplies. He took one and gave it to her.
eyes and looked again out the window. The pastor sat
letting her continue when she was ready.
"Like I said," she finally continued, "it was twelve years
ago when he
started to die. No. It was longer than that. You see,
his wife, Mary, died. She had cancer. It was terrible." She
eyes again. "Bill never really got over that. Mary was a
woman. She was a bright light in this church and the whole
at least he still had Sara, his daughter, my granddaughter.
of them grew closer than ever. Then, three years later, this
month, she was walking to school. It's just down the
pointed out the window. "You see, Bill always drove her to
was, how shall I say, overly protective of her after Mary's
that morning he had to go to the office early for an
meeting, and Sara, eleven years old then, insisted that she
practically grown and could walk to school." The woman began
again and the minister handed her another tissue.
"I'll never forget that day," Mrs. Alyce continued. "The
flashing lights... Sara had been struck and killed by a
car." and the
tears ran down her face again.
pastor leaned over and took her hand in his. "I'm so sorry
that," he said. "It must have been devastating for all of
elderly woman nodded her head and continued. "But especially
father. Bill wasn't the same. I mean, who would be? But he
himself. In his mind it was his fault. If only he had taken
school like he always did. If only he had done this or that,
even Mary would still be alive, too. Bill began to die that
Pastor. He's been slowing dying ever since. And he doesn't
pastor leaned back in his chair. "He blames God, too,
"Yes," she replied. "He hates God. He can't understand why
such things first to his wife and then to his little girl.
hasn't stepped foot in this church since then. I've tried,
know how I've tried, to reach out to him, to help him. But
Pastor, as surely as if he had a deadly disease. He's
wasting away in
grief and anger. I fear for him. My husband, Robert, died
of this happened. If he was here, maybe he could do
Bill were close. Now Bill's all I got left, him and our
family, of course. This church has meant so much to me. I
can tell you
that had it not been for the Lord and my family here, I
would be where
Bill is now. I would be dying too. And I hope you don't
think badly of
but, like him, I get angry with God, too. I can't understand
would let all this happen to such a good man, to us. It has
faith. But over the years, God and these wonderful people
helped healing come to me. It hasn't for Bill. I fear it may
come. But I keep hoping and praying. In fact, there is a
prayer I have
prayed everyday for these last twelve years."
"What's the prayer?" the pastor asked.
woman replied, "I call it, 'The Jairus Prayer.'"
Pastor Carter searched his memory and couldn't remember any
that name, though he knew the name from one of the miracle
"Got a Bible?" she asked, smiling for the first time as she
around at the cluttered study.
pastor said, "Standard equipment. somewhere," and began
through a box of books. He found the Bible his father had
given him as
ordination gift. He handed it to her. She quickly turned to
passage and read these words: "My little daughter is at the
death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be
live" (Mark 5:23). "That is my daily prayer for Bill," she
explained: 'Jesus, come lay hands on Bill, so that he might
live. Amen.' "It's the Jairus Prayer, at least that's what I
Pastor Carter was deeply moved by her words and the prayer,
mentally filed away as he knew it would preach. "How can I
be of help
you and Bill?" he asked.
"Pray that prayer with me," she replied, "and, when you get
would you drop by? Don't tell him I sent you. Just, maybe,
call on him
would be happy to do both," he replied. "Let's pray now."
they went into the sanctuary and sat on the front pew,
voices: "Jesus, come lay hands on Bill, so that he might be
Even though he had a lot of unpacking still to do, Pastor
could not wait to visit Bill. So that very afternoon he
up onto the porch, knocking on the door. He could hear
approaching. A tall, sickly, thin man appeared and peered
screened door. The minister could see some resemblance to
"What you want?" the man asked. And before the pastor could
continued, "If you're selling something, you're wasting my
"Not selling anything. My name's Jack Carter. I'm the new
just was going around introducing myself. You're name's
man looked suspiciously at him. "Mom been to see you," he
more a statement than question.
"Well, I." "Yeah, I been expecting you. Mom pays a visit on
my behalf to every
minister. She means well, I know, but you can't help me. I
need no help. I don't want no help." The man was holding
onto the door
handle as if he expected the minister to try to force his
"Yes, she came by this morning. She's worried about you."
man stood there. It was tiresome and embarrassing to have
minister, a complete stranger, know so much about him. He
would have to try one more time to convince his mother to
meddling in his life, such as it was.
silence was awkward. Pastor Carter decided not to push it.
"Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know
ever need me, I'm just across the street. I hope we'll see
With a grunt, the man shut the inside door. The minister
walking away. It was not the first time he had had a door
face. Pastor Carter over the years had learned to pretty
accurately read people. He didn't know how to explain it. It
kind-of sensitivity or empathy that allowed him to see a
beneath the surface. He knew from just this one encounter
mother was right to be worried about him.
Each day Mrs. Alyce would come to church and pray the Jairus
her son. When Pastor Carter was there, he would often join
too, found himself praying it throughout the day for Bill
others as well.
Pastor Carter made other visits to Bill's house with much
results. When he would see Bill out in the yard or at the
store, he'd wave at him but got little response.
day, months later, the pastor had an idea. He sat down at
wrote a note to Bill. It read:
"Bill, perhaps we did not get off to the best start. Let's
again. Maybe we could have lunch or something, or just a cup
coffee. Please know that I care about you. You know that
does, too. Perhaps you don't know that each day she prays a
- The Jairus Prayer. In fact, that's the title of my sermon
Sunday. We'd love to have you come and worship with us. The
family misses you. We are all here for you."
signed and sealed it by praying the Jairus Prayer once
knew he was pushing it with Bill. The last thing he wanted
to do was
make things worse by making Bill even more distant. But he
that it was worth the risk. He walked over and placed the
Bill's door. And waited.
Sunday came. Pastor Carter was in the study, reading over
had asked Mrs. Alyce for permission to use the Jairus Prayer
topic, promising her not to mention that he had received it
or sharing the circumstances surrounding it.
During the opening hymn, he was, he admitted, shocked to see
through the door and sit alone in the corner in the back.
noticed it. He found himself praying more earnestly than
come lay hands on Bill, so that he might be well and live.
During the sermon, he shared the story of Jairus and how the
Prayer had become so powerful and important to him. He
everyone at the end to bow their heads and say that pray on
someone else. He also had small, square pieces of cloth on
Communion table for each person to take home as symbols of
the hem of
Jesus' garment that the widow who had been sick for twelve
touched and found healing. He encouraged each one to keep it
explaining that often we do not need to just pray that Jesus
touch others, so that they might become well and live, but
needed to touch Jesus, too, for our own healing. As the
concluded, he looked up and saw that Bill had left. He
didn't know if
Mrs. Alyce had seen her son or if he should tell her. He
would have to
pray about that.
That Sunday night there was a knock on the parsonage door.
Carter came to answer it and was surprised to see Bill
"Pastor, may I come in?"
minister was lost for words for a moment. "Uh, sure, Bill.
Pastor Carter led Bill to the kitchen and pulled out a chair
the table. "Just made some coffee," he said, wondering the
this visit, fearing that he was about to be told to mind his
business or worse. But it was then that he took a good look
couldn't exactly identify it but there was something
about the man. He wasn't sure at the moment if that was a
Bill refused the coffee but sat down. The minister refreshed
and sat across from him. Before he could say anything, Bill
one of the cloths that had been given out in the service
morning. He must have gone back over later, thought the
suddenly glad that he had decided to leave some cloths
was in the service this morning," Bill started. Pastor
that was the Jairus Prayer, huh, the one my mom has prayed
was clear that Bill was trying to control his emotions, but
failing. Tears began to run down his cheeks.
can't explain it," he finally said. "Something has happened
went back and took one of those cloths. I really didn't want
didn't even want to go to church. But something. something
I know you are going to think I'm crazy or losing my mind.
folks think I have already. But I got back home and laid
down on the
couch, that cloth resting on my chest. I fell asleep, I
maybe I was awake. Maybe it was even a vision or something."
stopped to look at the pastor, to gage whether or not the
about to call the guys in white coats. "Go on, Bill," the
pastor encouraged him.
the dream or vision or whatever it was, I saw my little girl
again." and the tears came again. The pastor looked around
alas never had found them needed in the kitchen. He'd have
remember that and be prepared. But they were not needed.
wiped the tears away with the cloth.
the vision, Sara was with Jesus," he finally managed to
"And I heard as plain as day Jesus say to her what he said
child in the scriptures today - 'Little girl, arise.' I
Pastor, but somehow I knew, I know that my little girl is
now. That she forever lives in his presence and that one day
her again. and Mary too." He wiped his eyes again.
Pastor Carter was really missing the tissues now because he
them for himself.
"But that's not all," Bill continued. "I woke, I guess, or
just faded. I laid my hand on this cloth," which he held up,
felt this warmth flow into my hand and up my arm and into my
over me. It was as if I had awoken, not from a dream, but
long, dark night. I felt as if Jesus had said to me too,
child, arise.' And I did! For a great weight had been lifted
clutched the cloth more tightly than ever. He then reached
across the table, the cloth still in his hands, and grasped
want you to do something for me," Bill said.
"Sure," came the reply, the pastor wondering if it might
something to do with Bill's mother. But once again he was
"Would you pray that Jairus Prayer with me?"
course," Pastor Carter replied, a little confused. "For
Bill continued. "I ain't proud of it, Pastor. But there's
needs that prayer even more than me. Her name's Molly, Molly
She's the one who hit Sara with her car. I know, I've known
was an accident that Molly could not have avoided. It wasn't
fault. But I was too lost in my own pain and anger to care
must have been feeling all these years. Would you pray with
Together Bill and Pastor Carter bowed their heads in the
prayed: "Jesus, come lay hands on Molly, so that she might
be well and
"One other thing," Bill said. "I want to go and see Molly
Will you go with me?"
would be glad too," the pastor replied. "But there may be
else you wish to visit before her."
Bill grinned. "Already thought of mom," he said. "Going
right after I
"Good," the minister replied.
"Oh, and one other thing," Bill added, still grinning. "I
take that cup of coffee now. And I wouldn't refuse a piece
over there either."
minister got up and prepared the coffee and pie, which Bill
and ate as if he had not eaten
anything in a very long time. The End.