The believers were being persecuted. King Herod had arrested many, and even had Jesus’ disciple James, put to death because James preached about Jesus. Peter was arrested and was imprisoned with a death sentence over his own head.
Many believers got together to pray. We find them in the home of Mary the mother of John Mark, no doubt pleading with God during this scary time. We don’t read their words, but I imagine they prayed for God’s mercy, His protection, His will to be done in their situation. I imagine they prayed specifically for Peter, “God, please spare his life, undertake on his behalf, save him from Herod’s evil plan.”
While they were praying, they heard a knock on the door. Rhoda, a little servant girl, went and probably put her ear to the door. She whispered, “Who’s there?” Peter, no doubt with his own ear up to the door whispered back, “It’s me! Peter!”
Rather than opening the door and letting Peter into the house, Rhoda rushed back and interrupted the prayer meeting. “Peter is here,” she exclaimed. The praying believers responded:
“It must be his angel, which means they’ve killed him!”
Rhoda kept insisting, Peter kept knocking, until someone from the prayer group went to open the door and see for himself.
There stood Peter! Their prayers had been answered, but Scripture tells us they were astonished. They couldn’t believe their eyes, yet they had been praying for that very thing. There before them stood the answer to their prayers, yet they were astonished.
Jesus Himself had told them, “Have faith in God… Therefore I tell you whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22,24)
Jesus also said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)
I wonder how many times I have prayed to God for something, but somewhere in the back of my brain I don’t think He’ll answer that prayer. I know many people are praying these days that God will turn this country around, that people will return to God and that He will restore our land. But I wonder if we really believe He will.
I also wonder how many times God has answered a prayer of mine, and I was astonished to see it. Should it surprise me when God is faithful to His Word?
I am challenged today to pray believing. I am challenged to pray specifically for people and situations, to tell God what is really on my heart. I am challenged to trust Him with the outcome, and to be looking for His answer so I don’t miss it. And I am challenged to pray in His name, with the intent that the answer to my prayers would glorify Him and draw people to the cross.
I will pray, “God help us. God defeat Satan in our government, in our society, and in our churches and homes. God take away this virus. God heal the unrest, send a revival, open eyes and unite us as one nation under God.”
And I will be listening for that knock on the door, expecting God to hear and answer my prayers for Jesus’ sake and for His glory. Seeing answers to my prayers might blow me away, but I never want those answers to surprise me.