April 23rd 2010
Knock, Knock, Who’s There?
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”
“Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognised Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’ ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, ‘It must be his angel.’”
Acts 12:5, 13-15 (NIV)
The Bible says a lot about praying. Prayer is a very important subject and that is probably why several Bible passages about prayer are so comical!
It looks like Rhoda actually rushed in and interrupted the congregation in full flow of earnest prayer. You can imagine the looks of reproach, especially if she already had a reputation for being a little bit scatterbrained.
The Christians were very busy praying for God’s help…and then they didn’t believe it when he intervened. It seems they could believe something about angels being able to send a voice message from one person to another, but conveying the whole person was another matter.
So what had they prayed for, and why were they so surprised at the answer? Were they praying wholeheartedly for a miracle but not expecting it to happen, or were they praying that Peter would get acquitted in the morning? Were they praying for God’s direct intervention or for God to gently nudge the situation towards more favourable circumstances? Or had they indeed prayed for God to show them his love and his power but they didn’t want to seem gullible?
At all events, the story says at least two things about prayer: The Christians’ prayers mattered (God sent Peter to the very house where they were gathered); but the outcome was up to God (they were thoroughly surprised).
Try not to keep the answer to your prayers waiting outside the door too long while you decide whether it’s for real - (Peter had more trouble getting into Mary’s house than he had getting out of prison).
Father in Heaven, thank you for your answers to our prayers.
Study by Fiona Jones