“And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
“But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren” (Acts 12:12-17 KJV).
Peter, who had been captured by Herod, who had already killed James (the brother of John), was in prison, awaiting his doom. But, “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” and, you guessed it — God answered prayer.
“And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands” (Acts 12:7).
The angel then led him through the prison doors and the iron gate of the city ... until he came to the house of Mary, where everyone had gathered for prayer. How was it, they were not expecting an answer?
That reminds me of the story of a drought and the community gathered at the church to pray for rain. As the minister got up to lead the service, he noted their faith.
“Only one of you,” he said, “brought an umbrella.”
How many times are we “astonished” at answers to prayer? Bless little Rhoda. At least she recognized Peter at the gate and was so glad, she just had to run back and tell everyone, “Peter’s here!” — so excited, she didn’t open the gate.
You’d think that the ones there would have just ran out of the house. After all, had not God delivered Peter? Where were the “Praise the Lord” and “Thank you, Jesus?” No. Even in the face of God’s delivering power, doubt sprung up and, in their unbelief, told the girl, “You’re delirious!”
“It’s so,” she declared.
“No, it must be his angel,” they reasoned.
Peter kept knocking.
Finally they opened the door and were astonished. There was Peter.
Do we recognize the answers to our prayers? Do we keep praying when God is trying to tell us it’s time to rejoice and praise Him? Surely God sees that tiny grain of faith and always wants to answer our prayers.
So we are astonished. We are surprised.
That’s OK. God loves to see our delight and excitement when we grasp what He is doing in our lives. He can see that bit of faith even when we hardly know it exists — because we know Him, we love Him and we trust Him and He loves us.
I received an email from my son this morning (preaching to me). He said, “You just keep doing what you’re doing for God as you are asked ... praying and praying and praying about it ... accept it. The answer came and you’re still on your knees praying for it. No wonder your knees and back hurt. Get up off those knees and be about the fathers business.” (He’s right. Thank you, Terry.)
“While I was down on my knees, the answer came;
“Before the tears dried on my cheeks, the answer came.
“My prayer was yet unspoken, yet His promise remained unbroken,
“And I knew without a doubt, the answer came.”