Two doors, two prayer meetings – one God. Acts 12
Peter faces two closed doors in this story.
The first is the closed door of the prison where he has been placed to stop the spread of the message of Jesus. This could have been the end of Peter. There were four squads of soldiers guarding the cell and he was chained to an additional two! The plan was for there to be a public execution.
But there was a prayer meeting on.
And I love the story of his release by the miraculous intervention of God and an angel. He escapes but thought that what was happening was a dream. Later it becomes clear this was no vision..
“When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.” (Acts 12:12 NIV11)
There we meet the second closed door. This one is answered by the wonderful Rhoda who hears Peter’s voice and runs to tell the rest. But they won’t listen. Despite their labour through the night for this very outcome they simply won’t believe that the answer to their entreaties to God is right outside. Eventually they relent and .. there’s Peter!
It made me think a couple of things about prayer.
I think the unnoticed detail in this story is that Herod had previously enjoyed some success persecuting the church,
“He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.” (Acts 12:2 NIV)
I’ve always figured that, despite not being told, there must have been a prayer meeting for James (presumably the Lord’s own brother)! And yet.. we see that he has been executed.
So, I hypothesise that this church, rather than being faithless, had simply seen their earnest prayers fall short for one of the precious brothers. Did it stop them from praying for Peter? No. Did it make it cautious when it seemed their prayers were answered? Apparently.
Prayer is the act of pouring out our desires and hopes before a God who is sovereignly able to do anything but will only ever answer for His glory and our best. This same God can save a man from jail and execution and ordain another to die as a martyr.
To have our will for our prayers ‘fail’ is often heartbreaking but it shouldn’t stop us praying. Ephesians reminds us of the God who we pray to:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21)
Do you know disappointment in prayer today? Keep praying.
Do you think that what you’re praying for could never come to pass? Keep praying.
Do you think at God is unable to answer your prayers? Think again and.. keep praying.
We have a question associated with our Adventurous value at NewLife it asks, “What are you praying for that only God can do?” I love it and need to be reminded of it again today.
God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.. perhaps I need to ask and imagine more – you never know what doors God might open.
Grace and peace,