Do we actually believe that God is going to give us what we pray for? Most of us, including myself, will answer this question with an unqualified “yes!” However, as I was reading in Acts 12, preparing for a Sunday lesson, it suddenly struck me how the believers in Jerusalem were praying “fervently” (NASB) and “earnestly” (NIV) and “without ceasing” (KJV) (Ac. 12:5) for Peter to be released from the prison King Herod had thrown him into pending execution. But I don’t believe that they expected God to answer their prayers by setting Peter free. Earlier in the chapter James son of Zebedee was beheaded by Herod and there was no certainty among any of the believers (except maybe Peter) that Peter was not going to share the same fate. Look at how they respond when Rhoda announces Peter is standing outside the door (Acts 12:15): “You’re out of your mind!” But when she insists they say, “It must be his angel,” referring either to the Jewish belief that his guardian angel may have come to speak to them or to the idea that his spirit had come to inform them that he had been slain. Their amazement at seeing the actual Peter is almost appalling. Did they not believe that the God who raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead could get Peter out of prison?
The question that arises for me is: How often do I pray without expecting God to answer me? We say, “God’s will be done,” but I wonder if those words are not more frequently a euphemism to cover up our unbelief that God will really answer. Jesus is clear that God will answer our prayers that are submitted to Him in faith and without ceasing. In the parable of the unjust judge He says, “Will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18:7-8 – NASB) Interesting, that: Christ links our prayers and their answers to our faith in Him. He knows our weaknesses and that we sometimes ask without proper faith, but what should our response be when He answers? We should grab the answer thankfully with both hands and praise Him with a loud voice and not tell the messenger of the answered prayer, “You’re out of your mind!”