Will I see God answer a prayer?
Have you ever wondered at the power of prayer, particularly your own prayers? Ever wondered at the power of God and if you will ever see it with your own eyes?
Acts 12:1-17. Peter has been captured by Herod and is in prison. Herod has already by sword executed James, brother of John and he noticed that the Jews were “pleased” by what he had done. So, Peter is next on the list and so the night before his execution, we find Peter… asleep! Imagine that, asleep before execution!
But Peter is at rest, trusting God’s plan 100%. It seems, based on human reasoning that he will die the next day. But he trusts God’s will and purpose and so…sleeps. He is so fast asleep, that the angel has to strike him in order to wake him. Now that is faith: He so knows the character of God that he will place his very life in God’s hands. Still, he thinks he is dreaming about the angel and obediently just does whatever the angel tells him to do, in faith.
Rhoda also has faith. The church has gathered to pray for Peter, they have been praying through the night. She hears a knock on the door and expectantly goes to see who is at the door. She recognises Peter’s voice and is so delighted to tell the others, that she forgets to open the door for Peter. She is expecting to see Peter at the door and does not for one minute think she is making a mistake.
Now the church has been praying for days and on this night before his execution, they are stepping it up and are praying through the night.
They have plenty of zeal, but no faith.
When Rhoda tells them that Peter is at the door, they tell her “she is mad.” They believe she is mistaken. (Their very words reveal that they do not believe.) Then at the door when they see Peter, “they are astonished!” Talk about not expecting a visitor. (Their behavior also demonstrates their unbelief.)
It was zeal: an enthusiastic and tireless devotion for the things of God and His purposes.
Their zeal was not wrong, it is good to be passionate about God, but “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb 11:6)
Speaking to believers who are praying James warns in 1:6-7
“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, for when he doubts … That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord,”
Jesus warns in Matt 6:7-8
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
I have realised that I can be very zealous for God, yet not be operating in faith. I have been challenged about my prayer life and the level of faith that goes with my “Amen.” I have to ask myself:
How much of my prayer life is zeal for the things of God and His purposes and how much is faith?
- Do I actually believe that by the time I say Amen that I can: like Peter, go to sleep; resting in the total plan and purpose of God; OR like Rhoda: expectantly watch for the answer to my prayer.
- Or are my prayers like the pagans, Jesus mentions. Who think that by many words and their zeal, gods will hear and answer?
- Are my prayers addressing a Father who knows what I need before I ask Him, and completed in a trust that says Amen in faith? Honestly friends, not often.
No wonder Jesus says so regularly in scripture: “Where is your faith?” or “What happened to your faith?”
My faith and my prayer life, needs some heart work. What about yours?
Lord I am characterised by much zeal, but zeal that is empty of faith. What is the point of zeal that is empty of passion for You Lord? Forgive me Father for neglecting the maintenance of my faith, my passion for You. I have allowed busyness, neglect, apathy and slothfulness to chip away the faith in my passion, so that I appear passionate, but I do not actually believe. Lord I believe, but help me in my unbelief. Refresh my faith Lord, renew my trust, help me to fall in love again as I remember Your goodness and faithfulness to me. Open my eyes to see who YOU are and let my life and my concerns diminish as my faith grows.
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