When Jesus Doesn’t Answer Prayer
Many times we’ve had situations that need a prayer answered, yet we don’t seem to get an answer right away. In those times, we wonder where God is, and if He even heard. Our study of the situation of Lazarus will hopefully explain what could possibly be happening and why.
Lazarus was sick. John 11:1, “Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.” John 11:3, “Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” Lazarus’ sisters sent someone to tell Jesus that Lazarus was sick. They knew Jesus and knew of the many healings He had done. They were hoping Jesus would come to heal Lazarus. People today think communication in those days was crude. Quite the contrary. They didn’t have cell phones, yet the person they sent to tell Jesus didn’t go from town to town looking for Him. They went right to where Jesus was, even though Jesus had left Jerusalem (John 10:22) and went to Bethabara (John 10:40, 1:29), which is about 15 to 25 miles from Bethany.
When the person they sent to tell Jesus about Lazarus found Him, Jesus didn’t come right away. John 11:6, “When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.” Jesus just stayed there for two days. What do you think His Disciples thought? Jesus had healed the man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9), healed a blind man (John 9:1-7) and fed more than 5,000 people with just five loaves and two fishes (John 6:2-14). His Disciples were probably wondering why Jesus wasn’t rushing to heal Lazarus. But Jesus didn’t rush. In fact, He stayed right where He was for two days.
When Jesus finally told His Disciples that He was going to wake Lazarus out of his sleep, He told them He was glad that He wasn’t there – John 11:15, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there.” I’m sure His Disciples were wondering what was going on. Here was Jesus apparently not concerned when told that one of the people He loved was sick. When Jesus was informed that Lazarus was sick, He just stayed where He was at for two days, and then when He did tell them He was going, He said He was glad that He wasn’t there.
Jesus knew that the death of Lazarus would glorify God. John 11:4, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” Mary and Martha were heartbroken at the death of their brother Lazarus. John 11:19, “And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.” Many people comforted them because of their heartbreak. When Jesus saw Martha and Mary weeping, even He wept. (see vs. 33-35).
God knows your situation. You might be heartbroken and need comforting, but God knows what will give glory to Him. Jesus knew Lazarus was only sick before they even told Him. But He waited until Lazarus was dead before He proceeded. He waited until it looked hopeless. Are you in a situation where you’ve told Jesus all about it and He doesn’t seem to answer? God might be waiting longer than what we like. Maybe God is waiting so He can get the glory. Maybe He’s waiting until it’s worse. What would be more miraculous, healing Lazarus or raising him from the dead? Jesus could answer your prayer now, just as He could have healed Lazarus. As Martha and Mary were weeping because Jesus didn’t heal Lazarus, you might be weeping and wondering why Jesus doesn’t answer your prayer. Don’t be discouraged. Jesus knows what will glorify Him the most.