In the Office: The Prayer of Un-Faith

Today’s New Testament reading (Acts 12:1-18) relates a well-known story that demonstrates the power of prayer — even when our faith in God’s ability to answer isn’t what it should be. The Apostle Peter has been arrested by King Herod and is scheduled for execution. However, as he was being held in prison, “the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (Acts 12:5). And so, in the middle of the night, an angel of God appeared, freed him from his shackles, and then led him into freedom. Once he realized what had happened, Peter went to the house where the other believers had gathered and were praying. But when a servant told everyone that Peter was at the door, they responded, “You’re out of your mind.” (Acts 12:15)

Let that sink in a little. Here is a group of believers — many of whom have already witnessed some of the greatest demonstrations of God’s power ever seen and who have been praying earnestly for God to act again — and yet, when God does answer, they have a hard time believing it.

Have you ever been there? You or someone you care about is facing a crisis: illness, job loss, divorce. And so, you pray earnestly for God to send healing, to open new doors, or to heal relationships. And yet, if the truth be told, you’d be kind of surprised if God actually answered. After all, some situations look so bleak that it’s hard to imagine how they could ever be made right.

But let’s remember: we serve a God whose specialty and whose promise is setting the world to rights. And while we must understand — that on some occasions — this means that the answer to our prayers will be “no” or “wait,” we can also trust A) that God’s answer will promote His good and loving purpose in our lives; and B) that He will never abandon or forsake us.

As today’s passage ends, Peter instructs the believers to tell others about what has happened, and then he moves on to another place. Who will we tell about the prayers that God has answered? And where will we go next, as we continue to serve the Lord who answers prayer — even for those of imperfect faith?

In the Office

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