This week I was reading one of my favorite sections of the Bible. It might seem unusual to you, but for me it shows just how real the people of the early Christian church were.
It’s in Acts chapter 12, when “Peter was kept in prison . . .” (verse 5). And by in prison, the writer tells us that Peter was kept between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood at the entrance.
He was going nowhere.
Or so you’d think.
Verse 5 continues, “. . . but the church was earnestly praying to God for him”
The church was earnestly praying to a God who listens—and answers. That night he sent an angel whose presence lit up the prison. The chains fell off, and Peter walked out the door. While Peter and the angel were walking into the city, the gate “opened for them by itself.” (And by itself the writer means by the power of the God who listens—and answers.)
Here’s where my favorite part comes . . .
Peter headed directly to the home where everyone was praying. When he knocked on the door, the servant girl was so excited when she heard his voice that she ran back to everyone without opening the door. (That makes me laugh every single time I read it!)
But the pray-ers didn’t believe her. “‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, ‘It must be his angel’” (verse 15).
Apparently, even though they were earnestly praying, they had forgotten that God was earnestly listening. They had forgotten that God earnestly answers.
I pray that way. I’ll pray about a whole bunch of things, but I’m not sure if I fully expect God to listen, much less answer. I bet you do too. We have so much in our lives that we think about and earnestly pray about . . . but forget that God is listening. What is it for you? Cancer diagnosis, loneliness, financial troubles? Political leaders, work stress, marriage troubles? Violence in your city, dysfunctional family, substance abuse?
Whatever it is, your God hears. And he answers—in his time, with his amazing grace, power, love, and mercy. All according to his good plan. So now, “this is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
He really, really does! Stop doubting. And believe.
Oh! One more thing . . .
When he does answer, remember to give him the glory and praise and credit. It was not a coincidence. You were not lucky. It was not a fluke. No one is out of his or her mind. Your God heard you—and he answered you.
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. She is fairly certain she would have been so excited to hear Peter’s voice that she would have forgotten to open the door too!
Does it feel sometimes like God is saying no to your prayers? Watch today's Your Time of Grace video devotion.