“And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.” (Acts 12:14–16, AV)
In the previous post, I indicated several important points regarding prayer. There is one important point that I did not mention that must be considered in this story.
I have heard many people speak about prayer. They said things like this, “If I only had enough faith, God would have answered my prayer.” Faith is vital in our prayer, but I believe that this is greatly misunderstood. Consider what was going on in this account. Peter was Imprisoned after Herod had James the brother of John killed. The church is rightfully concerned about Peter and they begin praying for him to somehow be spared the same fate (v5). A miracle happens. Heavily guarded and locked in prison, an angel of the Lord works to release Peter from prison.
After being released, Peter goes to the house where the church people were actively praying for his release (v12). Peter knocks at the door and a servant girl named Rhonda goes to the door to answer and recognizes Peter’s voice. She excitedly leaves Peter outside and runs to tell those in the house that Peter is at the door. What do these prayer warriors of faith do? They tell Rhonda that she must be mad. In other words, in no way do they believe that Peter could have been released.
This group prayed, not with great faith as we would define it. It was not with loud words, or even believing that for which they had prayed would come true. Yet, they still prayed by faith. So, what happened?
Once Jesus’ disciples failed at casting a demon out of a boy. They wondered why they could not do it. Jesus told them that it was because of their little faith. Yet, then He tells them that if they had faith like a grain of mustard seed, they could move mountains. The mustard seed, being the smallest of seeds would imply that while they had little faith, they did not need much more than little faith to see great things happen. The issue was not the amount of faith that they could somehow conjure up, but the substance of their faith. It was an issue of what or rather who they were trusting and how they were trusting God.
When people pray, they often will trust in their own abilities in prayer. They think things like, “If I just believe something will happen and pray that it happens, it will be done.” This is greatly flawed thinking. God is not obligated to answer every prayer we make exactly the way we ask it because we can somehow conjure up a mental belief that it will happen. True faith is trusting in God solely for the outcome in accordance with His will. It is prayer that recognizes that God is totally in control and that only He has the infinite power to the impossible, and then to trust Him for the results.
In the case of Peter’s release, the group praying was amazed that Peter escaped. Yet, their prayer was powerful, not because of their great faith but that they had faith like a grain of mustard seed that was fully trusting the Lord to fulfill His sovereign purposes in the situation. To say that prayer would be answered because somehow, we had great faith tends to be a prideful deception that actually weakens our prayer. Powerful prayer trusts in the Lord God alone.