“When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” (Acts 12:14, 15)
It was the late 80’s, and my wife and I were growing concerned about our daughter’s attitude. It seemed to be irritating beyond normal teenage hormones and a desire to be independent; rebellion and disrespect were proceeding from her lips. On one particular day my wife turned to me and said, “You’re going to have to do something with her or I am going to strangle her with the telephone cord.” If you knew my wife, you would know that no such thing is possible, quite the opposite. She was, however, expressing her anxiety over her dearly beloved daughter.
At that time I had been contemplating the importance of prayers prayed in an effectual way. We were somewhat concerned that our children were no match, at that period of their lives, for the peer pressure of public school. Then on one day, while sitting in my car, and by the grace of God, an assurance came upon me after asking that both children be placed in Christian school, that it had been answered. I told no one, but in one week my Father called and spoke to my wife, and told her that God had placed it upon his heart to pay for the children’s Christian school. We rejoiced in God’s rich mercy and goodness on our Children’s behalf. Even though it was a little out of the unnatural that God answered my prayer in such an extraordinary fashion, but it wasn’t unexpected.
At the time of the Apostles, “Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them,” and he proceeded to arrest Peter also. We are further told, “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” (Acts 12:5) The idea behind this word fervently is, “fully-stretched, i.e. describing the verbal idea as extended out, to its necessary (full) potential (“without slack”); strenuously, without undue let up (as “completely taut”). In other words, the people were praying out of extreme need, and as a result in an extremely effective manner.
Now you would think that because we are to pray in faith, that when God grants us the answer for which we asked, we would not be shocked. Yet, the reaction of these dear saints of God, upon hearing the good news of their prayers being answered said, “You are out of your mind!” (Acts 12:14) In fact, while the servant girl, “…kept insisting that it was so; they kept saying, “It is his angel.” (Acts 12:15) For some reason they were more willing to believe in the appearance of an angel than Peter’s release. Ironically, it was an angel that released Peter. There is something completely irrational about unbelief.
Some will say, “They had to have faith or their prayers would not have been answered.” The fact is, we are very complicated beings, and we can mix faith and fervency in varying degrees in whatever we pray. They had faith but surely it was not complete, otherwise they would not have insisted that Peter could not be at the gate. On the other hand we are plainly told in the scriptures they did have a complete fervency. Fervency and faith are not the same, but either one works very well, as we can tell from our story.
Fervent prayers are much like the kind of prayer that James speaks of in 5:16, “The effective prayer of a righteous man avails much.” The word translated effective has the idea of energy; it’s like current running through a wire. This word, however, has a duel meaning, because it also expresses the idea that the effect that takes place outwardly is the result of an inner working. In this case the fervency was within the people who were praying. For this reason some translations use two words, “The effectual, fervent prayer…” These loving people really wanted Peter’s release. “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated…” Hebrews 13:3
When the Holy Spirit energizes a believer’s prayer things happen. Be filled with the Spirit!
Be sure and check out my new book.
“Often after proclaiming the gospel to others, I have desired to place something in their hands along with the scriptures: a detailed description of the Jesus of the Bible. Nothing is more important than for a person to see Jesus. Whether Jew, Muslim, Atheist, Buddhist, or Catholic, all need to see Jesus as the one they need more than all others.” (Excerpt from the Preface of THE JESUS YOU NEED TO KNOW)
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only truth God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3