What Do You Expect?
Greetings, fellow disciples of Jesus,
When you pray, what do you expect?
Do you pray with the expectation that you will be heard and that God will answer your prayer?
In Acts 12 there’s a story of the early church gathered in prayer. The Apostle James (brother of John) had recently been executed by Herod and, upon seeing that this pleased those who felt threatened by the church, Herod had Peter imprisoned in order to execute him, too. The church gathered and prayed fervently to God for Peter.
God answered their prayer by sending an angel who freed Peter from his chains and led him safely past the soldiers guarding him. Peter, astonished at God’s miraculous rescue, went at once to the home where many had gathered to pray. What follows is one of the more humorous moments in the New Testament:
“When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. On recognizing Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.” Meanwhile Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed.” (Acts 12:13-16)
I love the image of Peter knocking at the gate—freed from his chains and his prison cell, only to be locked out of the house where the church was gathered praying for his release!
Did you catch how the church responded to Rhoda’s report of Peter’s release? In disbelief. “You’re out of your mind!” “It is his angel.” Were they not gathered there to pray for his release? Why should they be surprised to discover that God had answered their prayer? Yet, upon seeing their answer to prayer, their reaction was amazement! It is as if they said, “Well, I’ll be! I guess God does answer prayer!”
The believers praying for Peter learned a lesson in prayer that day; a lesson we, too, can learn from their experience. What are you praying for these days? Are you praying in faith—in the full expectation that God hears your prayer and will answer?
To be sure, God will, more often than not, surprise us with the “when” and the “how” of His answer to our prayers. Indeed, we can pray expecting to be surprised! Still, as God’s children, we can pray “boldly and with complete confidence, just as loving children ask their loving Father” (Small Catechism, Luther’s explanation of the First Petition).
The Lord be with you.