Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).
The words — as I imagine them — of a father who took his epileptic son to Jesus for healing:
Prayer vexes me. What do you say to the Almighty? If the sight of God kills, then what if God hears you?
Scribes and Pharisees pray eloquently. I just farm. I don’t know what I’m doing when I pray. But I know what I’m doing when I spread manure, plow, plant, and wait, wait, wait.
Yet, after a demon tackled my funny, sweet, snot-nosed son, I couldn’t wait. He would run to greet me and fall in the dust, stiffen like a corpse, wet himself, mouth foaming and teeth grinding. The demon moved in and stole all peace.
After planting, we set out to find healing. Seers laid on hands, cast spells, concocted potions. Soon enough my son’s eyes rolled back in his head, and the death struggle commenced again.
The ache in my chest: a broken heart? Yes, but more. I wanted to scream anguish and love for the boy into the mocking sky. I ached for a witness. But I didn’t dare pray.
We heard about Jesus opening blind eyes, calming seas, restoring lepers, telling off clergy. I didn’t know what to believe anymore. We arrived among men arguing at the foot of a mountain where they waited for him to come down.
A man who looked and smelled like a fisherman greeted us. My son fell then and there. The man grabbed dirt, spat on it, and tried to rub it in my boy’s face for healing balm. Others shouted about taking him to the river, while another nervously ordered my son to stand up. The scribes asked who they thought they were.
Then Jesus appeared — who else could it be? — and everyone hushed. Cross, as if he came from communing with gods to attend to stooges, he rolled his eyes and asked why they argued. Desperate, I interrupted and told him why we came and pointed to my son. In a foul humor, he got to work.
As he asked clinical questions, I implored impatiently, “If you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” He shot back, “If you are able! – All things can be done for the one who believes.” So from that deep ache I finally cried, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” And it was like some demon cut loose from me, I tell you!
I looked into his eyes, now twinkling on laughter’s brink, and he gave me a nod. Fierce again, he dressed down the demon and commanded it to leave. My son woke as from a long, restful night. Jesus took his hand, stood him up, and the demon never attacked again.
I’m told he instructed his bumbling friends that it took prayer to heal my son. Well, I didn’t see or hear him pray. No flowery orations from the scribes. Who prayed? Was that howl from my heart some kind of prayer? (Mark 9:14-29)