Today’s post comes from my contribution to 66books in a year blog. I wrote this post on prayer from Acts 12 for that blog today as well. If you are interested in keeping up with a group of people reading the Bible together in 2010 I highly recommend that resource to you. Go to http://66books.wordpress.com to find it.
11Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”
12When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
15″You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
16But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.17Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
18In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed (International Version)
The enemy 2 the Christians 0. Things looked pretty bleak to the fledgling church. Stephen had been stoned and James had been executed and now Peter. Didn’t seem like the prayer that was so powerful in the first days of the church was being answered with such directness in this season of the church’s life. However, a group of people gather in a home to pray for Peter’s safe release. And guess what? He is miraculously led out of prison by an angel. A direct answer of prayer to those faithful intercessors. Yet when Peter shows up at their door, they are in dis-belief, even to the point that it gets a bit awkward with Peter standing at the door knocking while an argument pursues whether it is really Peter or his ghost. But awkwardness turns to great joy and excitement when the group greets Peter and hears his miraculous story.
I don’t have the prayer thing all figured out. And there are some things here that go against what I think of many times as the way prayer should work. Here are some of my observations:
- We don’t know when God will choose to act on our behalf like this. We are expected to pray faithfully, however.
- From this passage it seems as if we don’t really need to pray with all that much faith. There are passages of Scripture where we are told we must pray in faith. This is not one of those passages. These people were praying, but were not expecting their prayers to be answered. But those prayers were answered.
- I’m always curious when I see these emails that go out asking us to pray for some poor soul that needs healing. The more praying the better the chance of healing seems to be the rationale in these situations. Here’s a group of people that would probably be about the size of a small group Bible study in our churches. So, it’s not the number of people praying, but that small group had a HUGE impact. Our small groups have the opportunity to have that kind of impact as well.
Father God thank you for the process of prayer. We don’t understand completely how it all works, but we know it is part of your plan to include us in your work. Help us to take prayer seriously and be faithful in our expressions of it to you. Thank you for all the prayers you have answered Yes, and Wait, and No. We pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen.