I often hear of people passionately praying, not that we should discourage prayer. But when they receive the answer they were looking for, they act as if they didn’t expect God could deliver it in the first place. I’m reminded of this as I read Acts 12:
So Peter was kept in Prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
– Acts 12:5
Just before Peter was put in prison, we are told that James, one of the disciples, was beheaded by King Herod. Peter was thought to be awaiting the same fate. The church that loved James, and just saw him brutally murdered, was praying that God could, in some way, help to secure Peter’s release. The story continues in verse 6:
The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
– Acts 12:6-7
Simple enough, he was out of prison. All that worry, all that prayer, and God delivered Peter from prison. After realizing that his release wasn’t simply a vision or dream, he gained his senses and went to see his friends at Mary’s house. But their reaction was surprising:
Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.
Acts 12: 13-16
It’s almost humorous – their reaction. Even though they had been fervently praying for Peter, they didn’t believe it when he came to them. I wonder if that’s often how we act when God gives us what we’re asking or praying for. I’ve heard so many that share of their answered prayers and they speak as if they hadn’t expected that would or even could come deliver. Jesus instructs that we needn’t worry and that he will take care of us. But why is it that we so often forget that he is our help, our rescue? Jesus, the man who raised a man from the dead, and defeated death himself, that is the same man who is on our side. So may we not hesitantly pray, and more so, may be expect great things. And may we praise God when he comes through, knowing that all things are in his hands.
- Do you truly expect that God can come through when you pray?
- In what ways do you trust, or not trust, God in your prayer life?
- What do you need to praise God for?