An Honest Conversation About Prayer | Part 3: Earnestly
May 14, 2021
May 14, 2021
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was praying fervently to God for him. (Acts 12:5)
11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s grasp and from all that the Jewish people expected.” 12 As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was called Mark, where many had assembled and were praying. 13 He knocked at the door of the outer gate, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. 14 She recognized Peter’s voice, and because of her joy, she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the outer gate.
15 “You’re out of your mind!” they told her. But she kept insisting that it was true, and they said, “It’s his angel.” 16 Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. (Acts 12:11-16)
Last time, we looked at how the church was praying TOGETHER in Acts 12.
The second thing we notice is that their prayers were earnest.
You can see this in the early part of the narrative. It was the middle of the night when Peter was miraculously unshackled and led out of the complex by an angel who eventually left him be. Peter realized what had happened, then went to John Mark’s mother’s house, in the middle of the night, and there Christians were gathered praying.
The implication is that they started earlier in the evening and did not stop because it would not have been safe to leave in the dark, and would have kept going had Peter not shown up! This is a prime example of earnestness in prayer.
More often than not, earnestness in prayer is directly related to our perceived weakness to do anything about a situation. The degree to which we perceive ourselves to be helpless to do something, we call on God in prayer to do it on our behalf. Earnest, fervent, unceasing prayer is often related to our perceived inability to do anything in our own power to affect the change we desire.
In his book A Praying Life, Paul Miller applies this principle to praying for his kids. He writes:
Many parents, including myself, are initially confident we can change our child. We don’t surrender to our child’s will (which is good), but we try to dominate the child with our own (which is bad). Without realizing it, we become demanding. We are driven by the hope of real change, but the change occurs because we make the right moves.
Until we become convinced we can’t change our child’s heart, we will not take prayer seriously.
We need not wait for agonizing life circumstances to force us into a posture of desperation in which we “finally” turn to God in prayer. Rather, we are to recognize that God is the one who is infinitely powerful, capable of anything within in his nature, and therefore go to him firstly, frequently, and fervently. If God is infinitely powerful and we are not, the fact of the matter is that we are always in a state of desperation whether we realize it not. And if we do realize, prayer becomes our first course of action, not our last.
Rob is Teaching Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.