Pastor Malcolm Harrison

 In John chapter 11 God gave us the wonderful & incredible account of the resurrection of Lazarus. There are many different doctrines and teachings to be learned and studied in this great event! One I’d like to share with you to help you in your prayer. First, read John 11 to refresh your memory. As you read verse one you see Lazarus was sick and in verse three his worried sisters Mary & Martha sent for Jesus! When Jesus got to them, after Lazarus’s death, Mary & Martha regard his arrival as “too late” and poor Mary says “Lord, if thou had been here, my brother had not died” vs 32. Jesus tells her to show him the grave. Have you ever wondered why Jesus asked her to show him where the grave was when he knew full well where it was? Carefully study and pray about that question. The answer should bring a smile & a tear to your face. Notice verse 39 [that is where we’ll take our text] and notice what Jesus said to Mary & Martha “Take ye away the stone”. Did you ever wonder why Jesus {son of Almighty God who can calm the seas, raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out devils and by whom all the whole universe was formed} would ask two women to move a huge stone? He certainly doesn’t need them or anyone else to move the stone away. He could’ve turned it into a parakeet or a bucket of fish had he but willed it. He could have turned the stone into a big ginger-bread cookie had he but thought it, but no, he told these two women to take away that stone….don’t you wonder why? Because like always God is teaching…through his son Jesus the Christ we are being taught several very important things here. One of which is this: Prayer involves removing obstacles! Sometimes the reason God doesn’t answer our prayers is that there is an Obstacle between our prayer petition and God. Here is our problem…we want God to move, but we don’t want to move! Sometimes God says to us “as long as you know that there’s an obstacle between me and your prayer request, I won’t answer it until you remove the obstacle”. We let things get in our life, sins that create obstacles to our prayers…sins create barriers that come between us and what we’re asking God for. We pray and beg God to move and the Holy Spirit within us all but shouts “yes God would love to answer your prayers but you’ve got this adultery here and that beer there and this filthy language here that you’ve got to deal with…What about these?” So, if we’re listening, the Holy Spirit shows us in our hearts what the “stone” is that must be removed…and we don’t want to move it…we don’t want to deal with our sins. So we ignore the Holy Spirit’s urgings and convictings….and our prayers go unanswered and our fellowship with God is broken! Some might be thinking “my goodness preacher…is it really that serious…can sin in my life, like skipping church, really prevent God from answering my prayers”? Lets see what the Bible says [Prov 28:9, Psalm 66:18, Isaiah 59:2-3, Jeremiah 14:11-12]. Willful intentional unrepentant sin most certainly WILL become a stone which God demands YOU take away before he will answer your prayers! Take a father who has a very sick child. Such a man needs his prayers to reach heaven Amen?! He needs God to answer his prayers on behalf of that child! But the dad is living in adultery and wont repent of it, won’t forsake it. God is in Heaven watching, waiting to answer, hoping the father will remove that “stone of adultery”, but the father loves his adultery more than his son and will not “take away the stone”. The prayer goes unanswered…the child doesn’t recover and the father blames God! All along it was the dad’s power to get that prayer answered, but he himself prevented God from answering! Is your love of sin, stronger than your desire to see God answering prayer in your life? Jesus said “Take ye away the stone”. One thing I can tell you as a son, as a father, as a husband and as a pastor who has seen many, many wonderful prayers answered, is that if you’ll repent, take away the stones of willful sin and get on your heart’s knees before God, you’ll see God answering prayers in your life! Come Visit us Soon at Calvary!