May 12, 2016
READ: Acts 12:1-24
The word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers (v.24).
In just a few short hours, my husband and I learned that—although our lives were soon to be united in marriage—we wouldn’t walk identical paths. We had been dating for over a year when each of our fathers entered the hospital on the same day, though in two different facilities. One man breathed raggedly in his final stages of cancer; the other lay bleeding internally on the operating table after an open-heart procedure—two lives hovering between heaven and earth. The next day, one remained; the other did not.
Nothing sifts our prayer life quite like hardship or suffering. When difficulties arise, we clutch at Scripture that declares our desired results—verses like Luke 11:9, John 16:24 and James 5:14-15. We don’t doubt the reality of God’s ability. Leaning on biblical truth, we understand the sufficiency of the cross in not only cancelling the power of sin but also in its ability to eradicate its consequences (Colossians 2:13-15). It’s in the appropriation of those victories here on earth where the battle ensues. Why do the outcomes sometimes not line up with our hopes? Do our actions (or lack thereof) move the hand of God to a particular result?
While not answering all our questions, the story of James’ and Peter’s separate imprisonments reminds us how our trust in God and, just as important, our understanding of prayer shouldn’t be based on what we see with our physical eyes (Acts 12:1-24). James died, but Peter lived (vv.1-2,7-10).
For us, our expectation is often defined by what is least painful. But from God’s perspective, the greater thing is the supernatural work of His kingdom in us, whether through death or life (Philippians 1:21).
365-day plan: Psalm 1:1-6
Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 and consider how our intimacy with God, His continued work here on earth, and our view of heaven should shape both our perspective and our prayers.
When we hear about what God did for someone, why shouldn’t we expect the same outcome from our prayers? What life experience has most challenged your understanding of prayer?