Answered Prayer

Bible Book: John  4 : 46-56
Subject: Prayer; Faith; Miracles; Healing; Fathers

Answered Prayer

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

John 4:46-54

There are many subtle messages presented in the text we are going to consider today. One we could examine is the duty and love of a father. Certainly, the father in this story cared for his family and showed it through his actions. Another point which might claim our attention is the love of Jesus. Though He was constantly interrupted in his schedule and travels by needy people, He always had time for them. But we are going to zero in on yet another particularly important matter in our text. We are going to look at the unity of two factors involved in answered petitions to God - prayer and faith.

Two great elements are at the root of divine action - prayer and faith. We could say that there is actually only one element with two parts - called the prayer of faith. In our story today, we see a father who prayed to Jesus in faith and received more than he asked. That is always the way prayer mixed with true faith works - one does not receive the answer to the prayer alone but is made to see God in His love and power. When this father prayed to the Lord, he saw God do more than he could think or ask.

So, let’s look at An Answered Prayer today.

I. Faith Expressed

First, we see that true, believing faith must be expressed. One can only come to God through faith. A prayer without faith is like wishing upon a star or carrying a four-leaf clover for good luck.

In the case before us ...

A. Notice the Burden

Faith begins with the realization that one is facing something which cannot be done, controlled or changed in human strength, resources or wisdom. That was the case with the father of a boy in our text today. This man had a burden - a problem - a problem beyond his abilities.

Problems are universal, for all people in every age face problems which cannot be solved by personal strength. The man in the scripture we are considering had several things going for him, all of which were impressive.. Note what they were:

  • He had Nobility
  • He had Wealth
  • He had Influence
  • He had Power
  • He had Servants

None of the advantages this man had could possible help him solve the problem he was facing. Sometimes people think that position, money, or the right friends can solve their problems, but that simply isn't true. The man in our story had so many elements to help him, but none of them were sufficient for the overwhelming need his son faced.

Please know that no matter how comfortable you are today, you are not immune to the predicament of having problems which all your connections cannot solve.

Note another interesting fact from this incident. The Bible tells us that the man in our scripture today was from Capernaum. Capernaum was a place noted for the medical professionals located there. The latest, greatest medical procedures were being used there in those days. I must admit that when I'm sick I like to find the best medical treatment available, and I expect you do as well. I appreciate all those who care for and medically treat our bodies, But even they must also admit at times that only a divine act can bring healing. That was the case in the life of the boy in our text. Even the most noted doctors could not help with the boy's afflication.

Money can get you a doctor, but it may not buy you health.
Money can buy you a house but not ncessarily a home.
Money can buy you influence but not real, true, lasting friends.
Money can buy you things but not ultimate, deep, happiness.

Here was a man with money but he had a problem that nothing he possessed could possibly solve.

Let's turn from the burden and ...

B. Notice the Blessings

At times the problem we face can be a blessing in disguise. When I was about fourteen years old a friend came by and wanted me to go swimming at a nearby river. I informed him that had to trim a hedge around our property. The hedge was about 3 feet high and was a bit overgrown. We talked over the issue and decided to use a gasoline powered lawnmower to do the job. Crazy, right? Yes, but we were fourteen remember. We started the mower, he picked one side by the wheels and I picked up the other side. We began to pass the mower over the hedge. We had two terrible obstacles in completing this task. Within two minutes our arms were shaking in weakness and fatigue. Secondly, the stems from the hedge were hitting us in the chest and coming close to our eyes. In exhaustion, after only moving a couple of feet across the hedge, we had to lower the mower into the hedge to stop the engine. The blades stopped, but not before they had taken a hunk out of the hedge. My father arrived home at just that moment. To say the least, he was shocked. In compassion he said, "Get that mower down and don't ever do anything like this again. Go swimming and I'll use the hedge trimmer to do this the right way." Dad  told me later that he should have considered what we were doing as an opportunity. He said that the idea of an electric hedge could have developed had he looked at the problem as an opportunity. You see, this occurred in 1958 and a handheld electric hedge trimmer was not around then. Too often we fail to see our problems as gifts from God - at least we fail to note that problems can contain the potential for divine leadership and blessings.

1. The Trial was a Blessing

The father in this story had a problem and it deeply touched his heart. Eventually you will face problems so personal that they will grip you deep down inside. Certainly when something touches your family, it touches your very soul.

Please don't miss this - the problem this man had drove him to Jesus. That was the blessing in the problem he faced. This problem served not only to save his son's life but to save the souls of his family. For you see, this problem drove him to Jesus.

Look at Psalm 119:71:

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes."

See Hebrew 12:11:

"No chastisement seems good at the time, nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are exercised thereby."

How often I have seen people face a problem that led them to spiritual victory. No hardship seems good the moment you are in it, but when it brings you to your knees before God it has the potential to revolutionize your life and eternity.

Also, not another blessing ...

2. The Testimony was a Blessing

This father heard that Jesus was in his area. He heard a witness concerning Jesus. It is interesting that we may not hear correctly till something changes in our lives. We cannot see some truths until things change in our own existence. Spiritually speaking, we can have our eyes opened when we are facing problems too big for our own strength. You see, this man heard a testimony about Jesus - a testimony that might not have meant anything to him - but, his problem caused him to listen and respond.

"How wonderful that Jesus is near,

To comfort and cheer,

Just when you need Him most."

This man heard about Jesus and faith was excited in his heart. Please understand the role of hearing a word and having faith aroused in your heart. The Bible teaches that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." This nobleman heard and that caused him to express faith by coming to Jesus. If you want to grow your faith, grow in your knowledge of God's Word. It is through His Word that faith rises in the human heart, mind and will.

So, we have seen the faith expressed, now let's see the ...

II. Faith Explored

Faith is something that must be explored personally. We have to come to the Lord through personal faith. The faith of others can encourage us, but only when we are hard pressed and without strength can we really learn what it means to e plots the truth and value of faith in God.

So let's look at the two ways we can explore faith.

A. Seeing Is Believing - the Wrong Side of Faith

Some people think that "seeing is believing" but that is the Wrong Side of Faith. Have you ever seen a magician perform an amazing trick? Years ago I had an evangelist come to the church I pastored who was an illusionist. He was quite amazing. One night he had people hold their cars keys in their hands. He told them to hold only one of the keys tightly and rub it gently. He said now look at your key and many of you will see that your key is bent sideways. The congregation gasped and many of them held up bent car keys. He told them not to worry that he had some hammers ready to straighten them out when the service was over. I said, "I know you will never reveal how you do those crazy tricks, but that one was simply too crazy." He said, "Mike, it is nothing but an illusion. If you were taught to do it, you could!" That evangelist went on to tell our people how easy it is for the devil to fool people and that only God's Word leads to truth. Many people came to Christ that week in our services.

You may see something the world can do and it may be amazing, but only Jesus can change a life. God demands that we learn about faith through the act of believing before we can see! It is not seeing that is believing, but rather ...

B. Believing Is Seeing - the Right Side of Faith

"Believing is seeing" is the Right Side of Faith. When you believe what God says and respond by faith, you will see amazing things happen. That is how God works. We must act in faith by believing what God says even when we cannot see it. God honors the act of trusting His promises. Believe Him and He will reveal Himself to you.

Now, note ...

III. Faith Expecting

The Bible tells us that when the man heard, he went to Jesus. Don't miss this. Up to this point Jesus had only performed one miracle - He had turned the water into wine at Cana of Galilee. When this man heard about this one miracle, he traveled about 25 miles on foot to find Jesus and threw himself before the Lord in believing faithfor the life of his son. I love this story - I really admire this nobleman. He expressed faith, He acted on it with expectation.

Be assured of this, Jesus will take your flickering faith and fan it into a fiery flame - if you will but act on it.

A. The Prayer of the Father

This father fell down before Jesus and called upon the Lord to come to his home and heal his son. Note how definite he was. He didn't pray all around the problem - his prayer was specific - his prayer was definite.

Also, note that his prayer was an intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer means praying in faith to God for someone else. The boy could not come himself, and may not have come even if he could, but his father could come for him. Fathers, and mothers, you can pray for your children. They may spurn your words and advice, but they cannot keep you from praying. Put a prayer hedge around your children. Christian you can pray for other people, for your church and for your nation. You can intercede before God in true faith.

Think of these things regarding prayer ...

1. Prayer is unique in its Simplicity

Whether with grand words from the orator's lips or the hesitant stammers from the inexperienced, prayer is a conversation that mortal man is having with Almighty God. That's pretty unique but it is also so simple. It is so simple that many cannot accept it as being true, but the believer knows prayer works. After all, our prayer for salvation was an act of faith in the promise that God saves those who turn from sin and trust the risen Lord and Savior. When you trusted Him, He saved you just as He promised.

2. Prayer is unique in its Significance

It almost always deals with nobler causes, higher issues, and better things. It is one of the most positive things that a person can do. Praying is acting through faith in God for a burden and need that is not humanly likely or possible. In other words, prayer changes things – it is significant!

3. Prayer is unique in its Success

If we were to stop in this service right now and ask people here today to tell us of answered prayer, we would be in this service for days. Why, even I took time to tell you of my own personal prayer experiences and how God has answered and worked through my personal prayer life, it would take hours and even then I could not possibly tell all or even remember all He has done in my life and the life of others through prayer. It thrills me just now to even think of what God has done in my life through prayer, and through the prayers of others for me. You cannot measure the power and might of success in prayer.

Can any gauge the healing that has taken place in hearts, lives and souls through prayer? I think not – no, I know that we cannot even begin to consider it. Oh, the wonder of God’s work through prayer.

Now think of …

B. The Persistence of the Father

Did you see that the father prayed with persistence? The second prayer he offers certainly comes from his heart. He did not give up and neither should we – when we pray, we must pray through to the end.

When the father prayed for his lad, he did so by using a Greek term that speaks of the son as a “little boy.” In other words, he uses a term associated with kindness, love and affection. He loved the boy and he called to Jesus with persistence.

I believe one reason we do not pray more for others is simply that we do not love others enough. Yes, it may be that we don’t have enough faith, but it is also true that we are so caught up in our own little world that we don’t love enough to take others to God. This man loved, believed, and persisted. God loves that in a praying soul.

C. The Peace of the Father

Now, note that the father went his way in peace and confidence. He did not even immediately go home because he had perfect peace that his prayer was answered. How wonderful to see such faith in God! In fact, if you want a good definition of faith it is simply “taking God at His Word.”

Now lastly, note

IV. Faith Expanded

A. It Cured the Boy

Prayer brought results when mixed with faith. Now prayer didn’t heal the boy and I don’t mean to say that – actually it was faith in God through prayer caused God to heal the boy. Prayer works like that. Oh, how we need to learn to pray with faith. As I said at the beginning, God honors faith because faith honors God!

Now listen closely - we do not pray believing in faith, we pray with faith believing in God.

We do not pray with faith in our words, we pray with faith in the Word of God.

The father prayed, Jesus spoke and then the father went away with the assurance that Jesus would take care of the matter one way or the other. Faith believes that God knows best and leaves it with Him. That is true faith.

When we pray as we should, believing as we pray that God hears and answers, mighty results will following in God's own timing. Think of those who practiced this in the past and saw God bare His right arm and bless them.

Joshua Prayed and The Sun And Moon Stood Still (Joshua 10:12-14)
Hezekiah Prayed and Lived Fifteen Years Longer (2 Kings 20:1-7).
Israel Prayed and A Whole Army Was Defeated (2 Kings 19:15-19; 2 Kings 19:34-35).
The Disciples Prayed, and Peter Was Set Free From Prison (Acts 12:5-17).
Abraham Prayed, and God Agreed To Save A City (Genesis 18:20-33).

Now only did prayer save the life of the boy …

B. It Converted the Family

This man's faith expanded to cover his family, and again faith often works like that. They saw what God had done and they too put their faith in the Lord and were saved. Listen to me, your faith in God will prompt faith in others. In other words, faith is contagious.

Conclusion

Do you have a need that only God can meet? If you’re not saved, I know you have such a need. You need to be redeemed – to be converted. Place your trust in Jesus today – repent of your sin – call upon Him and He will forgive you and grant you eternal life.

But, how about those of us who are already Christians – do we have the faith to offer prayers  makes a difference? Even today, you can bring needs to Him – He will hear the prayer offered in faith. Not only that, but your faith might just cause someone else to have the faith today that saves, heals or changes lives.