Acts 12:5 While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.
Acts 12:12 As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many had gathered and were praying. 13 When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14 On recognizing Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.” 16 Meanwhile Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed.
Peter had been arrested because of his work and ministry. The church folks did exactly what they ought to do — they went to prayer. One evening as the group was holding a prayer meeting an angel came to Peter in prison and set him free. He then made his way to the prayer meeting.
The likelihood that the folks at the prayer meeting were praying for Peter and his freedom is quite high. The irony is that while they were praying, he arrived at the home. The maid Rhoda was so excited over hearing his voice and realizing this could be an answer to their prayers that she forgot to let him in — but ran to tell the others about the answer to prayer. In the meantime those praying failed to recognize that the answer was standing right outside their door. They told Rhoda that she was out of her mind. They were praying, but couldn’t believe that God had answered their prayer.
What are our expectations when we pray? It seems that often we are surprised when God answers prayer. This seemed to be the case here with Peter. Even though they had gathered to pray for this need, they were shocked when the prayer was answered.
I believe this speaks to our attitude when we are engaged in prayer. Do we pray believing that God can make a difference? God can and does make a difference in our lives. Prayers may not always be answered in the way in which we think or imagine, but God does care and respond. Sometimes we simply have to open our eyes to see what it is that he has already accomplished and will continue to do in and through us and those around us.
Go into prayer expecting that God will answer. Then, be open to the creative ways in which God may want to respond — and don’t be shocked when he does!
Lord, thank you for answered prayer. Amen.
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