David Virts

Scripture Text: John 11:41-44 Title: Powerful Prayer

Question of the Day: What would be the outline of a powerful prayer that would raise the dead?

When Jesus approached Lazarus’ tomb that day, the hearts of His closest followers and friends who were there must have been deeply moved wondering what was going to happen. They had seen Him raise Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s son from Nain, but they had just died; but Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. He had been wrapped in burial cloth and a napkin was tied around his head—so he was really dead dead! If there ever was a hopeless case, this was it—that is until the Master came, but what could He do now? Does the power of God still work in such extreme hopeless cases?

Here is today’s text: “Then they removed the stone that blocked the entrance of the cave where Lazarus was buried. And Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘O Father, I thank You that you have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of these people gathered here I have said these things so that they can fully believe that You sent Me.’ When Jesus had finished those words he called out with a loud booming voice, ‘Lazarus, come here!’ And the man who had been dead came out of the cave and his hands and feet were bound with the grave clothes and his head was tied to keep his mouth from gaping open with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Now loose him and let him go!’ Then many of the Jews there who had come to see Mary, when they saw the things that Jesus did believed in Him.”

To have witnessed this miracle must have been the one miracle that would stick out the most in John’s mind (that is, until the Master Himself came out of the tomb). John looked back on this one as an “impossible miracle” because of the decomposed condition of Lazarus’ body. John not only recorded the miracle, but the prayer of Jesus that plugged into the power of God and produced the miracle. Notice several things in Jesus’ prayer:
1. Jesus first addressed God as “Father”. He knew the source of the power He was about to tap into. This is quite good for us because God is also our Father, and we are His beloved children, and the intimacy that we share with Him and the relationship we have through Jesus Christ is the basis of all of our communication.
2. Next Jesus thanked His Father—even before the miracle took place. A thankful heart is also always a good place for us to start.
3. Does God hear and answer the prayer of His beloved children? Yes! And Jesus said in this passage that He knew that the Father had heard Him, and that He always heard Him. Doesn’t our Father in heaven always hear our prayers too?
4. Why would Jesus speak so intimately to His Father when others were listening? Now this is where we must sit up and take good notice: He prayed to His Father because He knew His Father would listen to His prayer, and He knew His Father would act because when He acted people would believe! What would cause people to believe? When they saw the power of God in action, and when they saw His power in action (verse 45), they did believe on Jesus.
5. Here’s the bottom line: God the Father longs to do things to demonstrate His power so that you and I will come to a deeper faith in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord! God the Father is glorified when people believe in His Son—because that is the key thing in the plan of God for this world. When people believe in His Son, then He honors His Son; and when He honors His Son then glory and praise and honor come through the Son back to Himself—and that is the key.

So when we come to God and ask Him for a miracle, that is what we can learn from the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Jesus didn’t do it just because Lazarus was His friend; He did it to bring glory to God and to cause people to come to faith in Him. What miracle would God do for you to bring glory to Himself and to bring people to come to faith in His Son? Just ask… That in itself is a powerful prayer!

Prayer: O God, You have made life quite simple so that we can grasp it and live it. Teach us to tap into Your awesome power and do an amazing miracle so that glory will come back to You, and so that people who hear of that miracle will believe in Your Son. O God, I, right now, ask You for… Amen!