February 14, 2018
Acts 12:5… So, Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer was made for him, to God, by the church.
“Earnest prayer…” Since I am preaching on prayer for 8 weeks now, I notice the word in my morning reading. The church was praying for Peter. He was in dire need. Herod, the king, in a show of power, had thrown James in prison and then beheaded him. His action pleased the Jews so Herod went after Peter. He had him in prison with the likely chance that he would kill him next. In today’s verse, it is noted that earnest prayer was made for Peter. My question is, “What does that mean?” I am particularly interested because the prayer was answered. God sent an angel and he freed Peter from prison.
My first through about ‘earnest’ is that it would show up on a person’s face. Or maybe it would influence the sound of his voice. Today, though, I am wondering if ‘earnestness’ is something that only God can see. Is it a spiritual dynamic? One thing… I would believe that He heard me. Without that, prayer is stupid. If God hears me, I want him to know the sincerity of my request. He told me one time that He hears me. I was lamenting a lack of answers and I ‘heard’ Him say, “Is it not enough to know that I have heard you?” I realized that I wasn’t even considering that; I just wanted particular answers. If He has heard me, then His answer is whatever comes.
James 4:8… Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…
“Earnestness” might describe my desire to be heard. With that priority, I can let God know that I trust Him, once He has heard me. My trust is not based on my preconceived expectations, but on His will. According to James, if I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me. That is a comforting promise. I suppose one could draw near to God without talking to Him… but why?
When you pray, imagine praying to a living, real, God. That realization, alone, will increase the earnestness of our prayers. Prayer is real; it is not a religious act of piety, or a rite of passage. For this to be true, God must also be real. And that is a prerequisite for earnestness… God must be real to us. If we ask God, “Teach us to pray”, we are also asking, “Help my unbelief.”