What Do You Expect When You Pray?

Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.  6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.  7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

In Acts 12, we find an incredible testament to the power of prayer.  Peter was in jail and the church prayed for him unceasingly.  God sends an angel to release Peter.  But that’s not the end of the story.  What is really interesting is the reaction of the Christians who were praying for Peter’s release.

Acts 12:12-16 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.  13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.  14 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.  15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

So here’s the picture, believers pray for Peter’s release, Peter is released, and the believers don’t believe it!  They even tell the girl who tells them of Peter’s release that she is crazy!  They say it is “his angel”, likely a reference to Peter’s disembodied spirit.  They must have thought that it had to be anything but Peter himself, because Peter was in jail!

Isn’t this how we are sometimes?  We pray and pray for something to happen, but never really expect that it will.  This is faithless praying and is exactly what Peter’s friends were doing.

Acts 12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

Finally, they open the door for Peter and are shocked to see him.  But why?  This is exactly what they were praying for!

When we pray, we need to expect that God will act.  What do you expect when you pray?