I love the honestly of the stories in the Bible. And I find my story in the Bible’s story again and again. I bet you do too.
Many times when I pray I am exploding with faith. But sometimes my faith is smaller than a mustard seed. Sometimes when I pray I am bursting with confidence knowing that God is moving and answering my prayer. But sometimes I find myself praying while in the back of my mind not really believing God will do anything this time.
You’ve been there. I’ve been there. And characters in the Bible have been there. That is what this blog is all about…
A few weeks back in my read-the-Bible-in-a-year reading plan, I was reading Acts 12, the story of Peter’s miraculous escape from prison. Verse 5 is the key to the entire story: “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”
Peter is in jail — chained up and surrounded by guards — so escape seems impossible. But with God all things are possible. So the church is gathered together and praying for God to move a mountain.
God hears their prayers and sends an angel for a supernatural rescue operation. With the help of this angel, Peter breaks out of prison and shows up at the house church:
…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!” (Acts 12:12-14).
Before I get to verse 15, let me pause for a moment. These believers are gathered together for the sole purpose of praying for Peter’s release from prison. Then Peter shows up at the front door of the house where they are praying.
How do you think they responded?
With great faith?
Praising God for an answered prayer?
Here’s their response: “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. (Acts 12:15-16)
I love their reply to the servant girl. First they tell her she is out of her mind. And then when they see Peter face-to-face the text says they were astonished as if to say “Wow, this prayer thing really works!!!!”
As I read that story in the Scriptures I saw my story in it. How many times have I prayed for something and God answered it in an undeniable way, only to have me be astonished? Or to think the prayer wasn’t actually answered. How many times has Peter shown up at my door (so to speak) only to have me reply, “You’re out of your mind.”
May you and I pray and believe God for great things. May we pray for the big stuff and the small stuff in our lives. And when God answers those prayers may we not be astonished.
***Please join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. My sermon is titled “The Holy Hour” and focuses on the Garden of Gethsemane account in Matthew 26:36-46. In this passage Jesus asked Peter, “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” and He is asking us the same thing. September 22. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***