Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
I have always loved this story for its drama, but it’s not just a fun story for Sunday School, it also has a lot to teach us. The point that this verse teaches us is to keep praying, even in the face of “impossible” situations. James had just been executed at Herod’s order (verse 2) and Peter had been arrested, with Herod having every intention of doing the same to him. I’ve written recently about finding Pilate a sympathetic character, but I don’t find Herod to be so at all. The believers had every reason to think that Peter would follow James in martyrdom, but as the Japanese specifies, they kept praying earnestly. We tend to pray for/about something for a while and then stop, but these believers were applying what Jesus had taught through the story of the persistent widow. (Luke 18:1-8) There are times when what we ask for isn’t God’s best for us, but too often we give up too early. In this particular instance, God’s answer was so unexpected and so miraculous that it reached the point of comedy, with first Peter himself not believing it was real (verse 9) and then it was the very believers who had been praying not believing it was real. (verse 15) In other words, God answered their prayers to a higher level than their faith. We tend to downgrade our prayers, recognizing that our faith isn’t very strong, but here God answered far above the level of their faith, and He can do the same for us. We read things like, “The prayer of faith will heal the sick,” (James 5:15) and think that our weak faith puts us out of the running. However, God isn’t limited by our faith, or lack of it, and He desires good for us. We need to grow in trusting that He really is bigger and stronger and smarter than we are, and He really, really loves us.
This is something I have learned over the years, and I’m still learning. Part of me tries to say that persistent prayer in itself lacks faith that I am being heard, but this story puts the lie to that. There are indeed things for which I have prayed for years that I still haven’t seen in the natural, but I must not stop praying. My father in particular prayed earnestly for revival in Japan, and he never saw it. I wouldn’t compare my accomplishments to his, but I too have prayed for an outpouring of the Spirit on Japan. I am not to grow weary in doing well, (Galatians 6:9) but trust that God is greater than my weak faith, because His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Father, thank You for this encouraging reminder. Thank You for all You did yesterday, anointing us as we ministered and giving us sweet fellowship with various people. Thank You for the huge encouragement of someone very close to You telling me that I have changed, and it’s good. That’s something I certainly want! I ask Your anointing for today also, as well as clear guidance as we do some shopping. May we indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, knowing that Your plans, on top of everything else, are far better than any-thing we could come up with. Thank You. Praise God!