If you’re a gardener, you know that when you plant seeds in the ground, you can expect results.
Not every seed will germinate, but a great many will. So you need to make preparations beforehand.
For instance, if you’ve planted seeds of climbing plants, you’ll need to provide something for them to cling to as they grow upward. Even if your pea or bean seeds haven’t germinated yet, you still might prepare some trellises or stakes for their eventual growth.
You wouldn’t think of not getting ready for the emergence of your seedlings and adult plants, would you? You have faith that they’re on the way.
Isn’t it funny, then, that when we pray and ask God for things, we often don’t really expect we’ll see any results?
We sometimes seem astonished when we receive a positive answer to our petitions. And it’s rare that we actually have enough faith to make preparations beforehand for answered prayer.
The early church fell victim to this lack of faith as well.
Acts 12:1-18 tells us of the time when the apostle Peter was seized and imprisoned, facing probable execution by Herod Agrippa.
The church, however, was earnestly praying to God for Peter’s safety and protection.
The night before Peter’s trial, he was miraculously rescued by an angel. The chains binding his wrists fell off, he somehow slipped by several sets of guards, and the iron gate to the city opened by itself for him.
He was free! The church’s prayers had been answered!
Peter hurried to the place the other believers had gathered, but a funny thing happened. In fact, a veritable comedy routine ensued.
When Peter knocked on the door and spoke, the servant Rhoda recognized his voice, but in her joy and surprise she neglected to open the door and let him in.
Next, when Rhoda told the others Peter was just outside, they didn’t believe her. They told her she must be out of her mind, or that it must be his angel at the door, not Peter himself.
Peter had to keep knocking while those inside argued about whether he was really there or not!
Remember what they had been doing there all this time: praying for Peter’s protection. But when their prayers were actually answered and Peter himself was banging on their door, they refused to believe it. One assumes they planned to keep on praying for Peter’s release through the night, shooing away whoever was at the door knocking!
When the other believers finally opened the door, they were astonished to find Peter standing there in the flesh (tired of knocking and probably somewhat exasperated).
When we pray, do we actually believe and have faith that our prayers will be answered? Or do we just go through the motions and then promptly forget about what we’ve prayed for, not really expecting an answer?
The book of James tells us that when we ask God for something, we should truly have faith and believe that we will receive it:
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
I heard a story about a church in a region plagued by a lengthy drought. Each time the congregation gathered, they would pray earnestly that God would end the drought by bringing much-needed rain to the area.
Oddly, despite the congregation’s desperate prayers for rain, no one ever brought an umbrella.
Save for one little girl.
It seemed she was the only one who really believed that God would answer their prayers.
So let’s be like that little girl and put some action behind our prayers. Let’s demonstrate to God that we truly believe He’ll answer our petitions when they’re aligned with His will.
Have faith, and bring your umbrella!
© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.