Summary: Do we not understand there are some divine reasons why our prayers are delayed? God is often doing something to build our lives and to bring about a blessing to us and others in the delay.
The Purpose of God In Unanswered Prayer
John 11: 1-45
When it comes to God’s answering our prayers, it often seems that if we do not hear the answer we want to hear, we conclude that it was no answer at all.
It’s like the three retirees, each with a hearing loss, who were taking a walk one fine April day. One remarked to the other, "Windy, ain’t it?"
"No," the second man replied, "It’s Thursday."
And the third man chimed in, "So am I. Let’s have a coke.”
I believe there are times that we tend to think that God is the One with the hearing problem, when it turns out to be that we are the ones with the hearing problem.
Why does God allow us to experience delays in answers to our prayers?
Do we not understand there are some divine reasons
why our prayers are delayed? God is often doing something to build our lives and to bring about a blessing to us and others in the delay.
Through delayed answers or even unanswered prayer God often grows us!
Let’s consider the burden and desire of Lazarus’s two sisters --Mary and Martha:
1. There was no problem with their devotion. (11:1-3)
2. There was no problem with their desire. (11:3)
I don’t think this was their problem.
A small boy came home from school and went straight to his room to pray. His mother had never seen her son do this, so she listened outside his door. She heard him praying softly and then saying, "Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo," loudly. She went into his room and asked what he was doing. He responded that he had taken a geography test that very day and was worried about one of his answers. He was praying to God asking the Lord to please make Tokyo the capital of France!
Many prayers are selfish. James said that are prayers are often not answered because they are asked incorrectly - they are prompted by our personal ambition and lust. However, I think we will see in a few minutes that this was not Mary and Martha’s problem.
3. There was no problem with their dependence (no lack of faith or expectation) - (11:3)
Now, the truth is there are several reasons why the Lord does not always answer our prayers as we think He ought to or when we think He ought to.
I. Christ Delays His Answer To Prayer For Lazarus For the EDUCATION (profit) Of Others: (John 11:15)
So many times we are apt to forget that love permits pain. Sickness in the life of a believer is by no means incompatible with the Lord’s love for such a one. The Lord permitted the sisters to suffer because of the benefit others would experience through their suffering. The sisters suffered because their pain offered a platform on which Jesus could erect one of His greatest miracles which would stands as a beacon to weary hearts of all ages.
Man’s disappointments are often God’s appointments!
Jesus’s delay allowed Lazarus to die so He could perform the miracle of resurrection and increase the faith of His disciples. They needed to have faith in Jesus’ ability to conquer death because they would soon see their beloved Savior soon hanging on a cross. At that point, they would need to reach back into their reservoir of faith to believe He had power over death.
Resurrection from the dead posed no problem for Jesus. He waited because He wanted their faith to increase. The disciples had some faith, but they needed more, and this miracle was going to be part of that process.
Jesus does not say, "I regret that I have tarried so long." He does not say, "I ought to have been here sooner." Wonder of wonders, He says, "I am glad that I was not there." Glad, is this word out of place? Martha and Mary are weeping out for sorrow, and yet their friend Jesus is glad!
"I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe." Christ is not glad because of sorrow but only on account of the result of it. He knew that this temporary trial would help His disciples to a greater faith, and He prizes their growth in faith that He is even glad of the sorrow which brings it.
Jesus sets so high a treasure upon His children’s faith, that He will not screen them from the very trials by which their faith is strengthen.
Faith untried may be true faith, but it is little faith. This was a trying time for their faith.
Two men were talking of the experiences they had. One said to the other, "It’s terribly hard to trust God in the dark."