The Purpose

"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

Do you pray by accident or on purpose? Jesus prayed with one purpose in mind; that the people standing around would believe God sent Him to save them.. Even raising the dead took second stage to raising the level of belief in the people who heard Jesus pray.

When people hear you pray, they may walk away saying, "What a great prayer!" When some heard Jesus pray, they believed in a great God. Others sought to kill Him. Great praying leads to great believing or great opposition. Weak praying inspires no belief, nor does it alarm the opposition.

"Many of the Jews who saw what He had done, believed in Him...But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done." John 11: 45-46

The biggest fear of The Pharisees was about maintaining their place in the sun, not embracing The Son. When Jesus raised the dead, they made plans to bury Him. Prayerless people worship at their own altar, and won't allow any outside interference by God to alter their plans.

"If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." John 11:48

Prayer is not about building consensus or making peace, with those standing around you. It is about glorifying God, and generating belief in Him, by those standing around you.

Glorifying God and believing in Jesus are life-changing steps of repentance. They require a change of direction and a disruption in our personal plans.

You haven't begun to pray, until you encounter resistance from your friends and opposition from your enemies. Every step along the way to the tomb, Jesus encountered people who loved Him, but couldn't understand why He hadn't been there, when they needed Him most.

Disappointment in Jesus is often a result of thinking He missed an appointment you made for Him. When He didn't keep it, and failed to arrive on your schedule, you lost confidence in Him. His past "failure" didn't lead Mary and Martha to hate Jesus. Their past pain clouded their eyes until they couldn't see how Jesus could be of any significant help to them in the present. This happens A LOT!

Prayer brings Jesus into the pain of your present tense. When Jesus shows up, the past is simply the prologue to the impact He can make in the present. Mary and Martha had no expectation of Jesus raising their brother from the dead. The very thought of smelling a dead man nauseated them. Jesus did it, anyway.

When Jesus prayed, He not only raised the dead, but He raised the level of belief in those people standing around. WARNING: Just because people believe more in what God can do, doesn't mean they want more of God. In the case of Lazarus, answered prayer generated belief in some, and rebellion in others. It usually does.

The slightest sign of awakening in the life of a family member or in the life of a church often brings opposition. A wayward husband, who turns back to God, often robs a selfish woman of her lime-light at the local prayer and tear session at her church. Now that he has changed from death to life, her need for sympathy hugs, and mantle of spiritual superiority are gone. She comes to resent the loss. Sad but true.

When God visits a local church or a nation with a Great Awakening, there will always be those who may tolerate it, but they will never embrace it. They bide their time and wait for things to, "Get back to normal." Since most churches are not life-giving, but simply death-defying, this usually means more rouge on the corpse. God offers a wake up call, not a make up session.

Others will do their best to pour cold water on Awakening, by offering up faint praise, indeed. There will also be those who try to snuff it out, by generating open opposition to it. These selfish efforts are led by prayerless people who don't want their plans disrupted or their place of power challenged. Ignore them and pray for the next Great Awakening, anyway. Raise the dead.