Luke 10:38-42 This familiar story tells of Jesus visiting Martha's house where she lives with her sister Mary, and her brother Lazarus. It is evident that Jesus enjoys their company. Martha is the one who demonstrates the life of ministry and service and during Jesus' visit she is so engaged in serving that she is actually distracted by it. She is right in that there were many "preparations that had to be made" and she gives herself to those tasks with her customary vigor.
Mary is not being helpful to her sister, but is relaxed sitting at Jesus' feet focussing on what He has to say and enjoying friendly conversation.
If we just take a reality check here! - Jesus, the eternal word of the Father, the Word of God made flesh, is sitting in the front room of this family's home and He's in the mood to talk! We become so familiar with this kind of statement in the Bible that we can easily miss the power of it!
As the Word is eternal, He will encounter us if we will turn aside and listen. We have much to learn from these two sisters.
God himself will speak to those who come to Him to hear. Mary has the wisdom to sit at His feet and listen, whilst Martha is distracted from true wisdom by doing things for God, while Mary makes the choice to hear Him and be drawn into His life.
If we commit to prioritising the first commandment to first place in our lives and focus on loving Him, worshiping Him and listening to how He feels and what He thinks, we will be drawn close to Him. Our lamps will not only burn, but have an abundance of oil.
Those who operate as Martha's, "doing" for God, may well see those who are behaving as Mary's "loving on God" as foolish, distracted or unrealistic wondering and asking "But what do you actually do?" "Surely, you don't just sit for hours in this House of Prayer and worship God?" - "Yes! Yes we do!" - He is worthy!
Psalm 2:10-12 - This powerful song speaks into this reality - "Be wise... rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son..." It is wise to to kiss the Son of God, to sit before Him and gaze upon His beauty, to hear Him and gain His perspective on what is right and true. He is worthy, He is lovely and in His presence there is fullness of joy forever! (This is not speaking of a sensual, physical kiss, but rather speaks of the intimacy one needs, to be close enough to kiss!)
As we spend ourselves on our relationship with the living man of Jesus, we become more intimate and knowing of Him. As we draw near to Him and our relationship develops more deeply, our prayers will have more authority.
This is demonstrated further on in Luke's gospel as we see the family in need of Jesus' help. Lazarus, is sick and word is sent to Jesus with an expectation that He can heal him. Jesus receives the message and does nothing. He can heal by speaking from anywhere, but He not only does not command healing, he tarries. His plan, way beyond human comprehension, will bring infinitely more glory to the name of Jesus than a mere healing would!
When Jesus does go to them, it is Martha who in her busyness and anxiety goes out to meet Him, whereas Mary, in the midst of all the pain and confusion, is at rest back at the house, trusting that her beloved Jesus will come when it is time. Martha greets Jesus with "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" Her intimacy with the Lord is limited to her understanding and so all she can conceive is the obvious - her brother is dead, the story is over.
Compare this with Mary's situation - her lamp is burning brightly, she has an abundance of oil through spending time and lavishly loving Jesus - she's no less grief stricken over her brothers death but she knows her Beloved. When He meets her, she utters the exact same prayer as Martha but significantly, the power is not in the words spoken, but rather it is in the depth of relationship behind the words.
When she speaks to Him amongst her weeping, something is released in His inner being. His Spirit is troubled but He chooses the right moment to command the impossible and raise Lazarus from the dead.
It was the prayer of Jesus' intimate friend that loosed resurrection power from His Spirit! He had shared the secrets of His heart with Mary as she had done with Him during the time they invested in their relationship. Through this relationship He had given her the authority to stir His heart to do the work that needed to be done, He did not do it alone - He wanted His friend by His side.
We can see through our own physical relationships in the here and now, a shadow of this reality. We each would be far more likely to draw near with everything we had to assist one which we love and have intimacy with, than one who may have the same need, but we merely know of.
At the end of the day, the one who seemed foolish "wasting" time talking and listening with Jesus, was found to be wise. Martha was also blessed - she was not turned away in shame for her lack of intimacy - she also received her brother back, but she missed the celebration and exhilaration of partnership and touching the heart of God with her prayers.
God yearns to talk to His friends so that we might be established in faith, that in the time of delay our hearts will not be shaken and we might stir the very heart of God with our prayers.
How often do we bind and loose things "in the name of Jesus" without actually knowing Jesus intimately. The enemy is laughing at many as they spend their energy and time commanding him to be bound. If though, we have the authority that intimacy brings, the enemy would tremble at our mere breath!
My thanks to Gary Wiens for this insight and I offer my high recommendation of His book "Bridal Intercession"