“Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.” – Acts 12:16
Are you an unbelieving believer? I know I am! How many times have I prayed about something, wondered if God heard my prayer, wondered even more if He would answer my prayer, and when He does answer my prayer, doubted it was God who answered my prayer? Too numerous to count. But at least I’m not alone, and I have a group of disciples in the book of Acts who understand just how I feel.
Here’s the scene. A group of Christians gather together for an all-night prayer vigil to seek God for the life of Peter, their beloved friend and leader, whom Herod has arrested and plans to execute. They are crying out to God for Peter’s life and the prayer vigil take them into the early morning.
Then a knock comes at the front door. A servant girl name Rhoda goes to see who it is. Rhoda must have been very familiar with Peter to recognize him just by his voice, because she left Peter at the locked gate, ran back to the prayer group and told them Peter was here.
And, being the faith-filled, Spirit-led, Holy Ghost baptized believers they are, they immediately dismissed Rhoda’s news by telling her she was crazy, it was just probably just his angel. Say what? Here these people are involved in some serious prayer but when the answer comes knocking at the door, they don’t believe it. THAT is what I mean by this being an imperfect prayer—they didn’t even have enough faith to think that God would answer their prayers.
This teaches us we don’t have to produce perfect faith nor perfect prayers to experience God’s answers. It wasn’t the extraordinary faith they all had that moved God to release Peter. In fact, they didn’t show much faith at all. Here they are, all gathered together to pray for their beloved friend, and when he shows up in answer to their prayers, they don’t believe it. So, how much faith does it take to pray for something and then, when you get it, turn it away because you doubt? Not much faith. Not much at all. But what we learn from this passage is it isn’t the amount of faith you have, but Who your faith is in that matters.
We must always remember that our faith isn’t in our faith, it is in God. Jesus knew we’d only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains (Matt 13:31-32). The fact that they were praying was enough faith to produce results. I admonish you to NEVER tell someone they didn’t receive an answer to their prayers because they didn’t have enough faith. I want to seriously hurt the self-righteous clods who tell people, “The reason you didn’t get healed was because you didn’t have enough faith.” If you want to see me truly angry, use that sentence in my presence! How much faith does it take to become saved? How much faith does it take to have your first-ever conversation with God? I think that is the same amount of faith it takes to move mountains. Just talking with God takes a certain amount of faith in itself.
I admit it comforts me to know I’m not the first person to pray for something and then doubt when it arrives. These early believers prayed rightly, and even though they didn’t believe it when God answered their prayers, God answered them anyway. They prayed fervently and effectively, but didn’t fully believe. Still, they had enough faith in them to pray in the first place, and that’s all we need, too.