Expectation in Prayer – Acts 12:1-17

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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It has been our practice at church to list prayer requests in the bulletin and to distribute a separate “Prayer Reminder” sheet. We usually divide these into categories, including one for Answers to Prayer. At the end of the year, we print an entire sheet with the answers to prayer that God has granted. While these lists are an encouragement to pray, it always seems amazing, almost shocking, how many specific answers we have seen to prayers.

When wicked King Herod killed James, then imprisoned Peter with the intent to likewise kill him after the Jewish holy week, “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5). These believers are to be commended, not only that they prayed, asking God to intervene where they clearly could not, but also for praying fervently for an entire week, even through the night. God miraculously answered their prayers, too, by sending an angel to take Peter out of prison. However, once Peter arrived at the place of the prayer meeting, it became evident these believers had absolutely no confidence their prayers for Peter would make any difference. When Rhoda saw him knocking at the gate, she was overcome with gladness and ran to tell these prayer warriors. But their response was not joy or praise to God. They told her, “Thou art mad.” When she persisted, they concluded, “It is his angel,” instead of an answer to their prayers (vs. 15). When Peter was finally ushered in after persistent knocking, “they were astonished.” These saints were NOT given dynamic promises of answered prayer, which were once promised only to the apostles (John 14:14; 15:7; 16:23). Miracles were lessening because Israel was being set aside in unbelief, but these saints should have possessed more faith that God would answer their prayers. Perhaps they represent the lack of faith in prayer that is often present in saints of all dispensations.

The Apostle Paul clearly believed God routinely answered the prayers of the saints. He frequently asked believers to pray for him (Romans 15:30; Colossians 4:3), and he assured them their prayers were “helping” (II Corinthians 1:11), even to the extent that he, too, would be released from prison “through your prayer” (Philippians 1:19). We must remember, it is also important how we pray. Paul wrote, “I will…that men pray everywhere… without wrath and doubting” (I Timothy 2:8). Pray regularly, and when you do, pray with the expectation that God may choose to grant your request.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."