Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church of God for him. July 18, 2007
Peter, in this portion of scripture, had been thrown into prison by the gentile king, and all the church gathered to pray for him. God heard their prayers and in order to show Himself mighty, He rescued Peter from the prison by an angel. Once in the street Peter went straight to the house where the brethren were praying for him, the servant who answered the door ran and told those praying that Peter was at the door, they wouldn't believe her. They said that either the servant was crazy or Peter had been killed and his ghost was there, until they saw Peter with their own eyes. They were praying with no expectation of God answering their prayers. How often do we pray this same way? We pray for the sick, never really attributing it to God when they recover. We pray for the lost, never expecting them to get saved. We pray for rain and then act surprised when we get it. Just like those Christians 2,000 years ago praying for Peter, human nature really never changes and we forget that the bible has promised that "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Do we pray because it's a religious obligation, or because we have a Father who cares for us and our petitions? Do we pray to be seen of man, or to be heard of God? In Matt. 7:9-11 Jesus said "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gift unto your children, how much more shall you Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Any father with natural affection for his children loves to give them the things that are good for them and make them happy. But what if your child walked up to you and in a monotone voice, made some generic request, without looking directly at you, then walked away without waiting for an answer. How would you feel about how much they really wanted what they were asking for? If we began praying like we talk to our fathers, maybe God would would reward our faith and trust. Instead of the way so many people currently pray, as if they're talking into the air and not to the God of the universe. I know it's easy to fall into the trap of disbelief when speaking to someone we can't see, but that is when faith comes into play, that's when it really matters. Anyone can believe in the things they see, but it takes true faith to believe in the God you can't see or hear, yet you can see Him at work. Like the wind you can't see it but you can see the work of it, so likewise we can't see God, but we can see his handiwork all around us. That ought to encourage us to take more time to pray with the expectation that God is not only going to hear our prayer but answer it. Let's learn a lesson from the account of those praying for Peter, when a prayer is answered we should be thankful, but not surprised.