But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. Â Â Â Acts 12:5 (NLT)
Do you have a prayer that you can’t see how there can be a good outcome? I do. Oh, I know that my LORD is big â€“ there is none bigger! In my head, there’s a â€œButâ€. I rationalize and say it isn’t God that I doubt but the person I am praying for who will bend to God working in their life.
In this passage in Luke’s letter called Acts, King Herod has just executed James and got such a â€œpositive responseâ€ from the people that he decided to imprison Peter. Maybe he’ll execute Peter on the anniversary of Jesus’ death. Herod’s kind of celebration. So Peter is in the bowel of Herod’s dungeon and the Church is on their knees. They have no other options. They had no political favors to call in. They had no SWAT team to go in and get him out. They had prayer.
But Moses begged the Lord his God and said, “Lord, don’t let your anger destroy your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with your great power and strength.â€ Â Â Exodus 32:11 (NCV)
Do words like â€œearnestlyâ€ and â€œbeggedâ€ describe your prayer time? Or do â€œshortâ€ and â€œpoliteâ€ come to mind? I am talking about words that describe our hearts. The time that I spend in prayer when tears, pounding my fist, throwing out my hands in surrender is time that I leave with a lighter heart and strengthened resolve. I have gotten real with God. I have released all that is in my flesh so that God can fill me up with His Spirit. If I hold on to my fear, frustration, doubt â€“ then there isn’t room for God’s truth to change my view of the situation.
It’s interesting that Peter who wondered how Jesus could sleep in the boat through a hurricane-like storm now has to be awakened by an angel in order to participate in his prison release. I don’t know what amount of warfare was involved in the angel getting through to Peter, I just know that the angel got through many locked doors and was not slowed by Peter being chained to guards. The chains fell off and Peter walked out.
This lesson in prayer for me doesn’t stop there. I wonder if Peter could hear the prayers as he stepped up to knock on the door of the house.
When she heard Peter’s voice, she was too excited to open the gate. She ran back into the house and said that Peter was standing there.
â€œYou are crazy!” everyone told her. But she kept saying that it was Peter. Then they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, until finally they opened the gate. They saw him and were completely amazed. Â Â Â Acts 12:14-16 (CEV)
I am encouraged as I read this passage that even the â€œgreatsâ€ of the 1st century Church struggled to believe that God would answer their prayers. I hurry through the prayers with words that are said while my thoughts are scattered in three or four other directions. I forget that â€œGod answers our prayers better than we pray themâ€ (Henry Neufeld). God doesn’t require that I get dressed up or say only â€œprettyâ€ words. He doesn’t require that I be ordained or even thought highly by any church leader. God listens â€“ because He loves me.
God isn’t the only one listening, however. Satan isn’t troubled by the number of words that I type in these devotions or when I proof another book as a publisher. But his bony, scaly knees tremble when I bend my knees and stammer my way through a heartfelt prayer. That scumbag will utilize every trick in his arsenal, every lie in his pea-brain to distract me and convince me that my prayers are weak and unimportant.
Jesus covered His words and works in prayer. How many times do I read that He went off to a mountain or withdrew to a quiet place? When time was growing short and the Cross was within His sight, Jesus was praying (John 17, Luke 22). He was praying so earnestly that His sweat was like blood (hematohidrosis).
Let us pray first. When worry or confusion comes to mind, I am turning first to God. When I need advice, I am going to ask my LORD first.
Let us pray without ceasing. God is always available. Day or night or both, I can call on Jesus and lay it all down. Just a continuous conversation.
Let us pray together. When someone calls me, emails me, texts me, sends me a message on Facebook â€“ my first response is to pray. All of these make it possible for me to share that prayer if God says so. Just think of Facebook with prayers instead of Farmville requests!
Call on Jesus by Nicole C. Mullen (2006)Â