“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” James 1:6
The angel suddenly vanished and a cool morning breeze sent a chill down Peter’s arm. Suddenly he realized that he was awake and everything he had just experienced was real. The chains had really fallen from his wrists. He had really walked right past the guards. The huge iron gates had really opened and he was really free! Knowing that the believers were praying for him, he made his way through the empty streets to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. This is where the prayer meeting was being held, and Peter could hardly wait to show his face to his dear friends who were diligently interceding for his release.
This is where the story becomes a bit comical because while all of the other barriers and doors had opened to Peter so freely, he was about to encounter one door that would not open to him.
The Bible says in Acts 12:13 that Peter knocked at the gate and a young lady named Rhoda heard it. She came to the door, and through the crack she asked, “Who’s there?” Peter said, “It’s me, Rhoda…I’ve just been delivered from prison. Open the door and let me come in.” Rhoda was so excited to hear Peter’s voice that she failed to open the door. She ran back into the room where the prayer meeting was in full swing. Some were bowing, others were weeping, still others were warring in the heavenlies for Peter’s release.
Rhoda interrupted the prayer meeting with the urgent announcement, “Hey, everybody! Peter is at the door.” They laughed at her. “You’re crazy, Rhoda…don’t you know that Peter is in prison? He is bound between two soldiers, behind two wards of guards, behind a massive iron gate. Peter couldn’t possibly be at the door. Now get back in here and pray!”
I’m not sure how long the debate continued, but the Bible does tell us that all the while this discussion was taking place, Peter continued knocking.
What a comical irony! Every door had opened to Peter except the door of the house where the believers were praying for the doors to open. This illustrates a powerful point. God has given us the keys to the Kingdom. He has made us the doorkeeper. What we bind in Heaven will be bound on earth…what we loose in Heaven will be loosed on earth. We have the power and authority to open every door. There is no power on earth that can stand against us, and the very gates of hell itself will not prevail. But there is one door that can always stand in our way and keep us from receiving our miracle. It is the door of unbelief.
So often the answer to our prayers has been standing on our own front porch, but we have missed it because we did not believe that God had actually heard and answered us. The believers were praying for Peter, but apparently they did not believe that God would answer them. The only thing worse than prayerlessness is prayer without expectation.
Unfortunately, many people think of prayer as being merely a religious exercise that appeases God’s need to be talked to. It is a kind of religious duty, like paying a bill that is due. When they pray, they feel better about themselves. When they don’t pray, they feel guilty. They seem to think that God keeps a stopwatch and records the minutes they put in, similar to the way a time clock keeps track of employees who are working on their job to receive a paycheck.
Jesus dismissed this mind-set about prayer when He said, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7-8 nkjv).
So if praying long prayers with many words is not the key to receiving an answer…then what is? The answer is simple…FAITH!