The surprise of answered prayer

th-7We are so pleased that a number of you have taken advantage of our offer to pray for your specific needs. You are not alone. We are already feeling much closer to many of you by sharing in your life in this way. We are getting to know you. That’s part of what prayer does — it brings us together.

We are also deeply indebted to those of you who have volunteered to pray. You are standing as intercessors between all of us and the Lord. It is a priestly function, and much appreciated. We have already received answers to prayer.

Sometimes those answers surprise us.

I am reminded of the story in the Book of Acts when the Roman king, Herod Agrippa, began persecuting some believers in the church. “He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish leaders, he arrested Peter” and threw him in jail under guard (Acts 12:1-5). Herod’s intention was to bring Peter out for a public trial. “But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.”

The night before Peter was to go on trial, an angel of the Lord came to him, freed him from the bonds that had him chained to two sleeping guards, opened the prison gate and led him out. It was all so miraculous that at first Peter thought he was dreaming the whole thing. Finally convinced it was real, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many of the believers had gathered to pray for him. While they were praying, Peter came and knocked on the door to the outer gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came out to open it. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she got so excited that she raced back inside to tell everyone, leaving Peter standing outside the door. How perfect is that?

Not only that, they left him outside while they tried to convince the girl that she was imagining things. How long they left him out there, we don’t know, but it’s most comical.

“You’re out of your mind,” they said when she told them, and when she insisted, they decided it must be his angel. It was beyond them to think that God might be actually answering their prayers at that very minute.

Meanwhile, Peter was still outside, patiently knocking. When they finally went and opened the door, they were amazed. They were amazed that God actually answered their prayer in a miraculous way.

I like this story because it’s so much like what we would do in similar circumstances. We pray, but we are shocked when we get an answer, especially a miraculous one. But God is God. He can do anything He wants.

Better be careful what you pray for — it might come true!

Isn’t that so like us?

If you have a burden too big to bear and you would like prayer, we have people standing by to pray for you. And if you are thinking about contributing to the Catch, we encourage you to consider becoming a MemberPartner by signing up for a regular monthly contribution that will fit your budget. We appreciate your one-time contributions, but regular support helps us become sustainable so we can do more for you. Links to both of these activities are in the column immediately to the right. God bless you!

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2 Responses to The surprise of answered prayer

  1. Julie says:

    I have sometimes gotten inspiration from your writings for some of the devotionals I’ve written, but today was just surreal! Our church is reading through the New Testament and our pastor has invited us to write devotionals, reflections, thoughts to go with the daily readings. We’re currently in the book of Acts…today’s (as in June 18) Scripture is Acts 11:19 – 12:19. I submitted my offering for that text last week. Check it out. As I told some friends, I guess God really wants me to get this message!

    Although I’ve had a lot of personal experience that God does indeed answer prayer, I’m often still slow to take something or someone to Him. Why would I hesitate to invite the Creator of the universe into my problem? Could it be that I don’t really expect to hear an answer? That wouldn’t make sense, since as I say, He’s actually spoken to me quite often.

    In Acts 12, we read about the imprisonment of Peter. “While Peter was held in prison, the church offered earnest prayer to God for him.” (Acts 12:5) And their prayers were answered – God sent an angel to free Peter from prison! But when he gets to the place where “many believers had gathered…and were praying,” and knocks, their response to the servant girl who tells them he’s at the door is “you’ve lost your mind”. She persists in her story that it’s Peter at the door, so “they finally opened the gate and saw him there, and they were astounded.”

    The believers had “prayed earnestly”, yet they were “astounded” when Peter showed up at the door. Seems like people have had a difficult time with believing God answers prayer for a very long time.

    The Bible tells us that God does indeed speak to us. Do we believe it? Do we live like its true? Do we expect to hear from God? Why don’t we? Why indeed.

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