A friend always asks two questions as she begins the Wordshops she teaches. Do you believe in God? Do you believe God?
The answer to the first question is generally a swift and resounding, Yes! The answer to the second question is almost equally automatic, until you realize the difference in what you are being asked. Do I believe God?
That is how I see Peter and the group of folks praying for his prison release at Mary’s house where Rhoda is a servant. The story is told in Acts 12.
Peter, who has walked on water with Jesus, doesn’t believe it when his prayer is answered. Surely he prayed for God’s will to be done because though he was to be executed soon, he slept soundly.
When the angel woke him, released him from the two guards he was hand cuffed to, walked past two other guards and walked through a locked gate that swung open for them, Peter thought he was dreaming. But when the angel disappears, he realizes God has answered.
Likewise, those praying at Mary’s house did not believe Rhoda when she told them Peter was at the gate. They thought she was crazy. Verses 15 and 16 read, “But they wouldn’t believe her, dismissing her, dismissing her report. “You’re crazy,” they said. She stuck by her story, insisting. They still wouldn’t believe her and said, “It must be his angel.”
Had they not been praying for this very thing? That Peter be released and sent back to them? I wonder if their disbelief was because of who brought them the message. After all, Rhoda was just a lowly, servant girl. Surely the answer they sought would come from someone better, someone of nobler birth than her.
Ahhh, we Christians and our beliefs of how things ought to be. Do we believe God when He says our ways are not his ways? Do we even believe God will answer our prayers or is prayer just one of those christian-y things we do?
Do we believe that eye has not seen, ear has not heard all he has planned for those who love him? Do we believe He will do abundantly above all we can ask or imagine? Do I?
Or, because our answer is wrapped is swaddling clothes out in some old musty barn do we choose to keep looking. When our hearts desire is just outside knocking at the gate of our heart.
There is a song that says stop holding on and just be held. It reminds me to stop praying for clarity and just look at what is clear right before my eyes. Maybe, I can stop looking for my prayers to be answered my way and accept that God might have a different plan. Selah…
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Your turn. Is there a prayer God answered but in a way different than you had in mind? Share with us in the comments. We’d love to hear from you. ~ Andrea