You gotta have faith! When you pray for something you have to believe what you are praying for. If you ask The Lord for something, then you need to have the faith that you will receive whatever it is that you are asking for. Of course it needs to be something in accordance with His will, so there is no point asking to win the lotto. But if we are true to the faith and our walk as Christians our aims and thus our prayers will not be for such frivolous things as the rest of the world seeks. Instead we will be looking for those things that are pleasing to God.
And when we do come before Him in prayer, we need to believe that He can, will and does answer our prayers.
In this part of Acts 12 we see an example where the early church offered up fervent prayers for something, but you wonder how much they believed they would receive what they were asking for. Indeed it was not until the prayers were answered by The Lord and they had the proof standing right in front of them that they finally, in amazement, did believe.
Peter in Prison
As we saw from my last post, the apostle James, the brother of John, had been killed and Peter was imprisoned. Furthermore, Herod had commanded that four squads of soldiers be placed there to guard Peter to ensure there was no escape or attempt to release him by the church.
To all intents and purposes, any chance of Peter escaping or leaving the prison seemed hopeless. The measures taken were strict and severe, including locking Peter in chains. He was as secure as man could make him to ensure he did not get away.
The Praying Church
While Peter waited in prison though, we see that the church was praying for his release. They were gathered together seeking The Lord to gain release for Peter so that he would not suffer the fate that James went through.
Back in verse 5 of this chapter we saw that the church had gathered to pray fervently for Peter’s release. It said,
So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Again we see in verse 12 that the church were gathered together praying and asking for his release.
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.
The Lord heard these prayers for we saw in the first section of Acts 12 how an angel came to Peter, released him from the chains and led him out of the prison.
Peter’s release was so dramatic and amazing that he thought he was seeing a vision and did not even realise himself that what was happening was real until after the angel disappeared leaving him alone in the streets outside the jail.
So too when he came to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark, and started banging on the locked door they could not believe it either.
We see a servant girl named Rhoda came to the door and heard Peter knocking, but in her excitement forgot to unlock it and ran instead to the others saying Peter was at the door. And what was the immediate reaction of the rest of the church? Joy? Amazement? Praise to God for Peter’s release?
No. They didn’t believe the servant girl, and more to the point, they didn’t believe The Lord could have released Peter. Look at what they said to Rhoda in verse 15.
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!”
They thought she was nuts! They said she was crazy and it must have been Peter’s ghost as they all expected Herod was going to put Peter to death just as he had done to James. All this despite the fact they had been praying and praying and PRAYING for Peter’s release.
What We Must Learn
So you gotta have faith. If you are going to bother The Lord in the first place to ask Him for something, you better believe that He can and will do whatever you ask. The early church asked for Peter’s safe return, and then didn’t believe it could happen until it did.
The Lord proved His faithfulness and trustworthiness by granting their prayers and effectively bringing Peter back from a hopeless situation.
Faith is the key. If you don’t have faith when you ask anything of The Lord, why bother asking in the first place? And we should also remember the words of The Lord Himself regarding prayer in Mark 11:22-24.
22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Look at verse 24 above. “Believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” This is where many times we fail in our prayers because we ask but we do not have the faith to receive what we are asking for. As He said in verse 22 also, “Have faith in God.” We may not have much faith in man, but over time as Christians we should have learned that we can have faith in God who will ALWAYS provide what we need when we need it and who DOES hear and answer prayers.
Sure, sometimes the answer is not exactly what we expect and sometimes not what WE want. But God always answers prayers in the way that is best for us and our walk with him…even if the answer is “No.”
Have faith and believe that you will receive the very best answer that The Lord can provide for all that you ask him for, and know in your head, heart and spirit that He will provide the answer.
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(Image sourced from stock.xchng taken by Lionel Titu)