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.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.