11/8/14 “Praying Without Expecting an Answer” (Daily Bible Reading: Acts 10-13)

And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, ‘You are beside yourself!’ Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, ‘It is his angel.’ Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished” (Acts 12:13-16).

We are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We are also told that God hears and answers our prayers (James 5:14-16). When you pray, do you look in faith to see how God answers your prayers or have you found yourself just praying about the same things over and over again, but not really observing how God may be answering your prayers?

In the 12th chapter of the book of Acts, Luke records for us a situation where some early Christians had been praying. The church at Jerusalem was being persecuted by Herod who had killed the apostle James, had Peter arrested, and was planning on bringing Peter before the people to have him put to death after the Passover feast (Acts 12:1-4). What did the Christians do during this time Peter was imprisoned? “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12:5). The Christians were “praying without ceasing” on Peter’s behalf!

God answers this prayer by sending an angel who woke Peter up from between the 2 guards before whom he was sleeping, led Peter out of the prison, and down a street, and then departed from Peter (Acts 12:6-10). Peter realizes God had delivered him and comes to the house of Mary where many Christians had gathered to pray on his behalf (Acts 12:11-12).

Peter knocks at the door of the gate. A girl named Rhoda goes to answer his call, but when she recognizes his voice, in her excitement she forgets to open the gate to let Peter in the house. She runs and announces that Peter is at the gate (Acts 12:13-14). God has answered their prayers! How do these Christians react when they see that their petitions on Peter’s behalf have been answered?

“But they said to her, ‘You are beside yourself!’ Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, ‘It is his angel’ ” (Acts 12:15). They think she is crazy! Yet, was in not really them who were “beside” themselves for praying to God and then not believing God would actually answer their prayers and deliver Peter? As Peter continues knocking, they finally open the door and are “astonished” to see him (Acts 12:16). Even though the disciples were well aware of God’s promises to answer their prayers (Matthew 7:7-11), these disciples were actually “astonished” when God did it.

Do I pray and then look in faith to see how God answers my prayers or do I has my prayer life simply become an empty ritual of mouthing out words to God? God had done a marvelous work in answering the prayers of the disciples lifted up to Him on Peter’s behalf and God continues to answer our prayers today. One of the blessings of being a Christian is to be able to lift up our petitions unto God knowing how much He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and then to look by faith for His answers. I do not want my prayer life to become an empty ritual. Today, when I lift up my prayers unto the Lord, I will look in faith to see how God is working to answer my prayers!

And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:7-8)?