Read Acts 12
Key Verse: Acts 12:15 “You’re out of your mind’, they told her.” (NIV)
Imagine that your local church suddenly came under intense persecution. The laws of the land had changed.
Whereas once it had been legal to worship God, now suddenly, anyone caught worshipping God was thrown into prison. The obvious target for the authorities was pastors. Yesterday they imprisoned your pastor. So they church board called an all-night prayer meeting. Because it was dangerous to use the church building, they asked if it might be held at your house. You agreed. Tonight your house is full of scared, concerned, praying brothers and sisters.
The prayers are very intense. Person after person calls on God for deliverance for your imprisoned pastor. “Shake the prisons, Lord! Send your angels, Lord! Deliver us all from evil, Lord!” Between prayers, people testify, prophesy, and encourage one another. “The Lord wills this for good, even though Satan has meant it for evil,” one says. “God’s word can never be bound”, says another. “Our paster will be freed,” someone else says. And, as you quietly begin to sing, “O God our help in ages past”, there’s a knock at the door. Everyone freezes. Have we been too loud? Are the authorities at the door?
You go to the door and cautiously look through the peephole. It can’t be! It’s the pastor? No! But yes! it is! It’s the pastor at the door! Without opening the door you run back to the frightened group in the family room. “It’s the pastor!” you cry, “The pastor is at the door!” They look at you blankly, “You’re crazy”, someone says. “Sure, we were praying for his release, but no one really expected it”, your spouse admits honestly. “It must be his ghost”, one of the more superstitious members whispers.
There’s a knock again. This time you open the door and to everyone’s astonishment, in the pastor walks, free and in the flesh. God has answered your prayer.
Or has He? Sometimes when we pray expectantly we get “no” for an answer. Other times when we pray unexpectantly we get “yes” for an answer. And then there’s always that unsatisfactory answer, “wait”. How can we get God to always say “yes”?
We can’t. Regardless of those who think they’ve got God cased — with the irresistible prayer ritual or the most appealing praise formula–God will not be cornered into fulfilling our agenda. He has an agenda too. And being the all-knowing, all-powerful, Sovereign that He is, His will ultimately is done.
Peter was freed from prison by an angel. Rhoda wasn’t crazy. And once again, God answered prayer.