The following Scriptural Nugget is the fifth in a mini-series based on John 11.
Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." (John 11:41-42)
The setting is in front of Lazarus' tomb. Lazarus has been dead for four days, and Jesus, despite the fact that the body would already be decomposing at this point, has just asked that the stone be rolled away from the tomb. Then He begins to pray.
Now this seems quite a natural thing to do, don't you think? After all, anytime we are in search of a miracle, don't we usually begin by bringing it before our father? We have been told to "ask", so we ask! We beg! We implore! In fact, we sometimes act as if this what we are asking is something that God doesn't really want to do! And in doing so, we feel we are following Jesus' example! After all, He prayed in front of the tomb so that Lazarus would "wake up" from the dead!
But let's look a little closer at Jesus' prayer: "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." Jesus isn't imploring, reminding God of things He already knows. Jesus isn't begging. In fact, Jesus isn't even asking! He starts off His prayer with a "Thank you" to God, and then the Bible goes on to clearly say that the only reason Jesus is praying at all at this moment is for the "benefit of the people" who were there, so that they might "believe" that God sent Him!
Whoa. Now that's not exactly how I would have thought a prayer to raise the dead should be composed! But let's take a moment and think about it. Jesus was doing His part so that the will of the Father, which He already knew, would come to pass! Jesus knew that it was already a "done thing" as far as God was concerned. Though He didn't yet see the physical evidence of the miracle, He had faith that God could and would bring the miracle about. So, because He had faith that God would do what He had said He would do, there was absolutely no need at all to "ask", no need to pray at all. But for the benefit of the people, that they would believe that God sent Him, Jesus prayed the only prayer that made sense: He thanked God for what was about to happen!
So why should we pray when we are waiting for our "miracle"? Two reasons! First of all, Our prayers show what we really believe! If we beg and implore, what we are really saying is that we're not exactly sure that God is going to do what we are asking Him to do. But the Word tells us: 1 John 5:14-15: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him." What does this mean? That whatever we ask in accordance with God's Word will come to pass! And how can we know if we are asking for something in accordance with God's Word? God's will is outlined in the Word! If what we ask is in accordance with God's Word, and if we receive a Word from God that what we are praying for will come to pass, then there isn't any need to ask! What we really should be doing is praising God for what is to come!
The second reason is exactly the same as the reason Jesus stated: For the benefit of those around us, that their faith might be strengthened!
Lord God, May our faith grow to the point that when we ask of You in accordance to Your Word, we will have that assurance that it will come to pass! Grow our faith to the place where we can stop begging and imploring, and start praising you that what you have promised in Your Word will come to pass!