While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." (Luke 5:12 NASB)
Leprosy. It is one of the most dreaded diseases, even today. In Jesus' times, infection control efforts were critical to avoid spreading the disease. Strict rules were in place to protect the public health. A leper with active infection was required to wear torn clothes, uncover his hair, cover his moustache, and shout "Unclean! Unclean!" as he walked through the streets. He was required to live alone, outside the town. (Read more in Lev. 13 and 14)
On this particular day, there was a man who was "covered with leprosy". He had the very worst case of leprosy possible. He was walking through the streets, shouting "Unclean! Unclean!" and dressed in tattered clothes. He saw Jesus, and hope sprang up in him. We don't know how he knew that Jesus could help him. What we do know is that he approached Jesus. There was no need to shout "Unclean!" before Jesus. Jesus already knew.
This lonely, isolated man fell on his face before Jesus and asked to be made clean. He wasn't asking for a removal of physical dirt. "Clean" was the term used to indicate that the leprosy was no longer contagious. He wanted to be healed. Once clean, he would no longer be an outcast. He could return to his family and what was left of his life before leprosy.
He was asking Jesus for healing and restoration. Even without leprosy, it's a much needed request. Healing of that which is unclean in God's eyes and restoration of relationship with God and with those from whom we are estranged are much needed, and only available by the power of God.
Today, pray the leper's prayer. Pray for healing and restoration for ourselves and our loved ones. May God cleanse all that is unlovely in our lives and hearts, mend relationships, and restore our walk (and that of our loved ones) with Him.