Pray But Don’t Prescribe

John 4:43-54
Main Verse: John 4:49
by Brian Phillips

Reflection
What boldness this government official had!  And, yet what humility!

He was used to ordering people around.  He was, after all, a nobleman.  But, now he was publicly humbling himself, approaching a mere carpenter for help.

His love for his son had driven him to it.  He did not send a servant.  He did not order Jesus to come to him.  Rather, he traveled 15 miles to plead with this carpenter from Galilee in person.  For, somehow he knew, from the stories he had heard, this was no mere carpenter.

Even the greatest men, when they approach God, must become beggars, paupers . . . they must become as poor men, in spirit.

And, yet, his high ranking betrays him.  In his angst and impatience, he pleads, “ . . . come now before my son dies!”  He places conditions on Jesus.  He wants Him to come, in person.  He wants Him to heal his son before he dies.  And, he expects Jesus to wait until they get to the man’s home to perform the miracle.

Jesus, in His mercy, meets only one of the conditions.  He heals the official’s son before he dies.  But, he neither does it in person, or waits.  Jesus heals the boy from a distance.  And He does it instantly, at the speaking of a word.

The facts of the boy’s healing are corroborated shortly thereafter.  And the boy’s father and his household come to believe in Jesus’ claim to be God as a result!

Food for Thought
“We are encouraged to pray, but we are not allowed to prescribe,” the Bible commentator Matthew Henry cautions us.

There once was a time when I felt God had abandoned me.  I prayed He would give me a sign that He was still there.  And I wanted it now!  But, He took His time.  He gradually revealed Himself to me over a two year period.

Then one day I had the only color dream that I can remember.  I was walking in the woods, and suddenly the trees burst into fall colors:  Orange, yellow and flaming red.  They were as brilliant as a postcard of New England in the Fall.  I heard a voice say, “Just as this beautiful sight signifies the change of seasons, so, too, does this dream signify the end of a wilderness period in your life.”  Then I awoke with a sense of God’s presence and peace that has never left.

So What Now?
God has rarely, if ever, answered my requests the way I wanted or expected Him to.  What need do you have today, that God might provide in a totally unexpected way, at an unexpected time?

Prayer
Father, forgive me for putting conditions on you.  You know what is best for me, and when and how is best.  You do ask me to pray specifically, though (Matthew 7:10 & 11; Matthew 21:22).  So, I ask this of you ____________________________________________________________ and trust you with the details of when and how you will provide.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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