“Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank you that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” John 11:41,42
“Peace is the blessing of believing prayer.” Don Miller b. 1922, Preacher, Pastor, Church Planter & Prayer Warrior
Recently I was walking with my 92 year-old Dad, Don Miller. He spoke these simple words to me. They had nothing to do with what he and I had just been talking about, and they seemed to belong to a conversation he had been having with someone else. They were. These days, they often are.
At this stage of Dad’s life, his public ministry is no longer visible to those who knew him as a force of nature on preaching platforms and prayer conferences around the world.
On the other hand, his prayer life with The Father has never been more active and conversational.
Dad slips in and out of conversation with others, while carrying on a private conversation with The Father. He does this with such a seamless stride that is sometimes a bit difficult to tell, if he is praying or talking to me, but it is a sweet picture of his personal walk with His Savior. He seems to be living out the words of a great old song written in 1906, and a personal favorite of his, “Nothing Between My Soul and My Savior.” Conversation with Dad may be a bit unusual for the uninitiated, but for those who are willing to listen, it is always filled with precious gems of truth that spill over from his quiet conversations with Jesus.
Believing prayer has always been one of the great gifts Jesus has offered to His followers. This kind of prayer is deeply relational and completely conversational. It is as real as the breath in a person’s lungs, and when it is repeated with the same kind of gentle regularity, the answers flow as trust in The Father grows with each fresh believing prayer.
When Jesus heard of the death of his dear friend, Lazarus, the Scripture says, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) The passion and compassion of Jesus flowed from a heart of love for The Father and poured out on those around Him. His tears were visible signs of his heart beating, with the love of The Father, and breaking over the pain that death can bring to those He loved.
General Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, received a telegram from one of his discouraged officers, complaining of the difficulties he was facing, attempting to carry out the general’s assignment. When he asked the general what to do next, Booth wired back, “Try tears.”
When tearless praying and prayerless preaching become completely acceptable behavior, they fall short of what passed for praying and preaching in the life of Jesus. His church should never settle for less, or expect more from The Father with the absence of either one. But I digress.
“So Jesus again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb.” John 11:38
Commentators debate to this day, the reason for the tears of Jesus. The fact remains, they were an overflow of his private, and personal conversation with His Father. Perhaps they were tears of frustration. In speaking to Martha, no weak sister, and more than willing to give Jesus advice, Jesus said, “Did I not say to you, that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40
Apparently, believing prayer was a gift Jesus had already offered to Martha. She had a strong work ethic, but her faith was weak. Believing prayer turns a crisis over to The Father, in the name of The Son. It gives The Spirit enough elbow-room to do the heavy lifting required to reveal “the glory of God.”
There is no great work accomplished when people figure out the least they can do, pull it off in their own strength, and then give God the glory for it. Martha remains the poster girl for “Do It Yourself Christianity.” She has a huge fan base.
It gives no glory to The Father, for His frantic children to pray like orphans, as if the answers to their prayers depend on them, and not God. Faithless people may not be prayerless, just prideful. They fear asking God to do too much because people might expect them to cover the cost of what God doesn’t pay when they pray.
Faithless praying weakens prayer into a stale devotional exercise, and fails to launch a great adventure. There is a huge difference between taking a walk in the park, and climbing Mt. Everest. Believing prayer is worth the risk of failure. The view from the summit of answered prayer is spectacular.
“No great work of God has ever been accomplished without the element of risk. Mark out the word risk and insert the word faith. They are one and the same.” Dr. John Bisagno, Pastor Emeritus, Houston’s First Baptist Church – Houston, Texas
The prayer life of Jesus reveals He maintained intimate, unbroken conversation with The Father, and He believed The Father heard Him when He prayed. He engaged in the former with confidence, but never took the latter for granted. He prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard Me.”
Before Jesus prayed in front of those standing around, He engaged in confident, believing prayer in private. He looked into the eyes of The Father thanking Him, and reminding His followers, “You always hear Me.” Thank God, indeed!
Believing prayer is not based upon eloquence of the prayer warrior, but upon confidence in The Father. Jesus raised His eyes to The Father, and looked with confidence into His eyes, knowing that The Father was already aware of the crisis at hand, not ignoring it. Jesus prayed and allowed The Father to assume all the risks for answered prayer. Before He called for Lazarus to come forth from the grave, Jesus had been assured of The Certainty that His prayer had been heard, and the answer secured.
Believing prayer resists the urge to panic in the face of a crisis, or to pacify prayer into the call of the mild. It places any choice, career or crisis, large and small, into The Father’s hands. Believing prayer trusts The Spirit to interpret the weakest prayer, and deliver it to The Son. Jesus always gave all the glory to The Father for any answer to His intercession for those He loved. He still does. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!