Praying Like We Expect an Answer!

“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”   (Mark 11:24 NLT)

There are numbers of stories in the Bible that inspire and challenge me, but none more than when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11. I’ve often wondered why He postponed going to see His friend Lazarus when he was dying, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clearer. What can we learn? How might it teach, inspire, and encourage us to pray with more confidence and conviction?

Listen to what Jesus said when He got the news of Lazarus’s illness: “Lazarus’s sickness WILL NOT END IN DEATH.” How did Jesus know that? Because He’s God and He knows everything. We will do well to remember who we’re praying to. It may actually be a catalyst for bolder, more faith-filled prayers.

After Jesus arrived at Mary and Martha’s house, who were sisters of Lazarus, Martha ran to meet Jesus and immediately said: “Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever You ask.” Another valuable insight! The God to whom we pray can do anything we ask. He has no limitations; He’s all-powerful; all-knowing; ever present. But, like Martha, we say the words, but we don’t believe He’s really able to address OUR need in THIS moment.

Jesus even told Martha what He was going to do. “Your brother will rise again.” But she filtered that information through what SHE knew, not what Jesus knew. So, she responded: “’Yes,’ Martha said, ‘he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.’”

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In the next verses Martha verifies her theology is right, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God who was sent from God, but she still doesn’t have a clue as to what Jesus is about to do. There are even those present who blamed Jesus for Lazarus’s death, but they didn’t make the connection, as we most often do not, that the power that could have healed Lazarus and kept him from dying, is the same power that can raise him from the dead.

“’Roll the stone aside,’ Jesus told them.” This is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road.” We can talk all day about what we believe about Jesus. How much power He has and that “nothing is impossible for God!” But we’re rarely, if ever, willing to roll the “stone from the tomb,” for fear it will cause a stink.

Martha, the one who just moments before said all the right things about Jesus, now says: “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Duh! Like Jesus didn’t know how long he’d been dead! How like Martha we are, yet we wonder why we never pray bold and “impossible” prayers. Jesus won’t raise our “dead” prayers unless and until we allow Him to roll the “stones” of our doubt away.

Jesus responded: “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So, they rolled the stone away and Jesus did something that, hopefully, will give us insight into how we need to pray with expectation. He said: “Father, thank You for hearing Me. You ALWAYS hear Me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here (or reading these words), so that they WILL BELIEVE YOU SENT ME.’ Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out…”

Our Heavenly Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus. He listens to us as if He were listening to Jesus. He gives us the authority to do whatever He asks us to do, not for our recognition or glory, but for His. For God’s glory, let’s pray like we believe our own theology. Let’s boldly ask God to do things that will bring Him honor and fame. Let’s pray like we really expect an answer!

Blessings, Ed 😊

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