Today’s Reading: Acts 12:1-23 (additional reading: Psalm 136:1-26 & Proverbs 17:14-15)
There is a legend of a small town in which there were no liquor stores or nightclubs. Eventually, however, a nightclub was built right on Main Street. One of the churches, in the area, was so disturbed that they conducted several all-night prayer meetings, and asked the Lord to destroy the nightclub. Lightning struck the nightclub a short time later, and it was completely destroyed by fire. The owner, knowing how the Believers had prayed, sued the church for the damages.
His attorney claimed that their prayers had caused the lightning and fire. The church people, on the other hand, hired a lawyer and contested the charges. During the trial the judge declared, “It’s the opinion of this court that the owner of the nightclub is the one who really believes in prayer while the church members do not!”
Here is a situation where people who don’t have faith will find God to be faithful! And yet, those who claim to have faith really don’t.
The story in Acts 12 tells us that the church folks were “earnestly praying” for Peter to be released. But what they didn’t expect to happen was that Peter would be miraculously set free from his chains. Peter was even escorted by an angel out of the jail. He later showed up at the front door of this all night prayer meeting, and was met at the door by a servant girl named Rhoda. She was so surprised and excited that she forgot to let Peter inside and ran to tell everyone that he was set free.
The point is this –
1. God wants us to pray in faith. 2. We need to be expecting something whenever we do pray the prayer of faith.
A.H. Strong uses the analogy of the coupling. The coupling joins a train of cars to a locomotive. The coupling has no power in itself. It cannot move a single car an inch. All the power is in the locomotive. But the coupling is the link by which the power of the locomotive is transmitted to the cars. Faith has no power in itself; it is not a ground of salvation; it is not a good work. It is merely that by which all the goodness and grace and glory of Christ comes to the sinner.
Andrew Murray: Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what he can do.
The faith exercised in prayer is faith in the God who sovereignly accomplishes His will. When we pray, our faith recognizes, explicitly or implicitly, the overruling providential purposes of God. We may at times be given insight into that will, enabling us to pray with absolute confidence in God’s plan to answer as we ask. But surely those cases are rare – more rare even than our subjective, emotional desires would lead us to suspect.