My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
The Mystery of Prayer
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.”
Acts 12:1-10 NIV
…he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”
Acts 12:12-16 NIV
The angel exhibited 7 supernatural expressions while rescuing Peter. 1 appearing suddenly 2 providing light 3 loosing his chains 4 making Peter think it was a vision 5 passing the guards unnoticed 6 opening the gate 7 leaving suddenly.
Peter did not recognize the angel or the reality of what happened until it was over.
Later the people praying did not believe the report of the girl that their prayers were answered.
Application in my life
I am touched by the message in verse 15 that shows how the answer to prayer may not be accepted or believed because of the source of the answer. The church did not know at the time that their prayers for Peter had been answered and they did not believe it had happened even though the answer had come and Peter had been freed. Here is my conclusion. Even when I do not see that my prayers have been answered that still isn’t a good enough reason for me to believe or think that they haven’t been.
Peter was probably as close as a person could be to Jesus yet he did not recognize the presence of the angel or the reality of what was happening. If Peter didn’t realize what God was doing, perhaps I would have even less of a chance to recognize God moving in my life when it happens. My hope is that I will realize afterterwards that it was God, just as Peter did.
I have to firmly understand that complete prayer includes the act of believing, not waiting until I see results before believing. This is an accurate example of faith. Easier said than done. Just as the people in the house did not believe – that did not make it any less true that Peter was free. So it wouldn’t be any less true that prayers have been answered even when I haven’t seen it for myself.
Lord I am amazed by how great a work you do for those you love despite how I might miss it sometimes. I want to take this lessson to heart so that I will better appreciate how you respond to prayer and make a difference in our everyday lives, Amen.