The Power of Praying Expectantly


When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. — Acts 12:12-17

This is one of those bible stories that preaches to Christians. But to really get a good handle on the message it preaches, we have to jump back to verse 5. It reads this way.

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. — Acts 12:5

Now I don't know exactly what these followers were praying for, but I would assume most of their prayers surround the theme of deliverance. Recognize, James was just beheaded. Peter is now imprisoned and destined for the same fate. They know Jewish leaders and Roman leaders are aligned against them. And they feel the pressure mounting. They need divine intervention, and so they resort to "earnest prayer for Peter." But the question I have is: What kinds of things did they pray for regarding Peter's situation? Comfort? Protection? Peace? Rest? Hope?

And then I wondered if they prayed for this: Peter's definitive release from the clutches of King Agrippa?

Now I think they may have prayed for this, but we will never know for sure. Yet, it becomes clear that these Christians did not expect Peter to return, which is revealed in how they respond to Rhoda. They dismiss her, assuming that what she has heard is impossible. They assumed Peter's "angel" was outside the door.

But then this hit me. And it hit me hard. It was a simple thought. Because I think the response to Rhoda exposes how these Christians prayed and how most Christians pray. We go through the motions of a prayerful life, asking God to do things that only he can do. And after we ask, we go back to life as normal without any expectation that God might do the unexpected. We actually pray for divine intervention but never expect divine intervention. And as a result, it's easier for Peter to get out of physical prison than it was for him to get into a spiritual prayer meeting.

But a small part of me wishes the story would have been written more like this.

Christians prayed earnestly for Peter's release from prison. And then they sat waiting by the door.

That's the story that should have been told!

So today, let's ban together and commit to praying for something impossible. Ask God for something impossible. Something you cannot do. Or that you think is impossible for you to do. And ask God to do it. Pray earnestly. And then sit patiently and expectantly by the door.

ASK THIS: What do you need God to do that you cannot?

DO THIS: Ask him.

PRAY THIS: God, I need you to...  and then, if you are brave, share this in the comments below.

PLAY THIS: While I Wait — Lincoln Brewster.


short + biblical + practical
Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.

39 thoughts on “The Power of Praying Expectantly

  1. Everett says:

    Lord, I ask you to provide the way for me to be able to move my family to Arizona for 9-12 months and to get my wife the medical treatment that she needs. If that is not your will, then I ask you to heal her from her head to her toes!!

  2. Eddie Ackerman says:

    I need God to reach out and replace the hearts of anger and bitterness in my mother in law and sister in law and replace them with hearts of love and compassion so that they are drawn to Him.

  3. Stan Stephenson says:

    Help me build this business so it can be come the ministry I believe you have called me to

  4. Jeff says:

    Very good devotional today. Hits very close to my heart. I often pray having the faith that God can answer my prayer but often not wholeheartedly believing that he WILL answer my prayer. I desire to pray more expectantly.

  5. Dennis James says:

    I have been in continual prayer that our Lord eradicate the demonic presence from our government on all levels and that the church repents and seek God to heal our nation. Praying that the church take their eyes off the distractions of the enemy and focus on the Kingdom , studying God’s Word and deep in prayer. I must now practice waiting in expectation that God is going to move in mighty ways. I am going to wait by the door!

  6. Lance says:

    I dig this message and I think I get the point to be strong in faith. But when I have prayed for miracles 100 times with no miracle, it is very hard to just expect one on prayer 101. I believe in them and have on occasion seen them in action. I just struggle with being skeptical that the one I am praying for now will really happen when so many don’t.

  7. Jason Taylor says:

    Next year my daughter, Allison, will be able to attend with the needed resources a Christian college that puts the Word of God first and that she would be able to get a spot on the volleyball team.

  8. David Ray Thornbrough Sr. says:

    Our pastor has been tested positive for covit-19, praying it goes no father than just a test.

  9. Thomas Hyslop says:

    My son faces a court trial next week (DUI). I pray that the result of that trial will be the best thing for him. It is hard to witness this.

  10. David J says:

    I pray my daughter seeks a relationship with you God through your son Jesus Christ. God help me be more loving, patient, compassionate, understanding, and accepting .

  11. Roger L says:

    Faith is the necessary part of our character as believers that binds everything else together! Lord, give to me the measure of faith I need today, to live out your plan for me. Amen

  12. Cory B says:

    Repair broken hearts, restore relationships. Soften my own heart and open my eyes and ears to hear You. May my own selfish desires not get in the way of Your will.

  13. Sheldon says:

    Make me more like Jesus.
    Salvation for my children
    Deliverance from alcohol and drugs for my brother Lamon.

  14. David says:

    Heal my friend Bill back to complete health and my mothe so she can drive again.

  15. Steve says:

    I pray that my son would return to God and seek him once again with his whole heart and that he would find his true self.

    • Ron Stanley says:

      I was reading the comments, and your prayer is the same as mine. God Bless

  16. Daryl Braden says:

    My prayer was to be elevated to the President of Memphis Athletic Ministries

  17. Brian says:

    God please restore my marriage. Repair my wife’s shattered heart. Help her love and believe in me again. Help me be the man you have called me to be. To be the husband and father that my family needs. Help me kid know and follow you. I plead all this in Jesus’ name. Amen

  18. Greg stanton says:

    I like to pray like this:
    ” thank you God in advance for, (forr whatever I pray for”) 😳

  19. Hebron says:

    I need to have my outlook on life changed from me seeing life as an annoying inconvenience, to the miracle it really is.
    I need to be totally transformed in this regard. The way I view everyday, and the events of every day, would be radically altered and I suppose my ability to reach out to people for Christ would burgeon and my mental health would improve drastically.

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