08 May 2012

Overriding Our Unbelief - A Prayer

    When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.
(Acts 12:12-16 ESV)

 Heavenly Father, thank you for chronicling this almost comical prayer meeting. Your people knock on the door of heaven for Peter’s release and then Peter knocks on their door, a free man, and they refuse to believe it’s Peter!
     As much as it exposes our unbelief, in a far greater way it highlights your faithful commitment to do exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine. This story describes the kind of praying that goes on in my heart way too often. I dutifully pray, but faithlessly doubt. Forgive my unbelief, Father, and override it.
     There are many things I’m praying about right now for which I’d love to hear “Peter knocking at the door.” I have no need to be considered a great prayer warrior. I’m not looking for wonderful stories to tell others as a testimony to my faith. I simply want the greatness of your glory and grace to be on public display. May the name of Jesus be lifted high, in clear and compelling ways. Astonish us, Father, astonish me.
     Father, I pray for your children who are facing intense persecution in many parts of the world. Strengthen them, encourage them, and grant miracles of provision and deliverance. In the Sudan, Nigeria, India, to name a few… cause the gospel to spread like wildfire. Give your sons and daughters so much joy, peace and love that their persecutors will be convicted and fall down and worship you.
     Father, I pray for the courageous men and women who are laboring in the dark world of human trafficking. Bring justice to bear; deliver women and children from the evil of slavery in every form. Protect the rescuers and provide good aftercare for those rescued. Multiply the financial and people resources of those who are risking much to bring and end to human slavery.
     Father, I pray for an outpouring of your Holy Spirit on many broken relationships weighing heavy on my heart. Disconnected and dissolving marriages of friends, longstanding friendships now strained and chilled, churches divided over petty things and heavy things… Father, since “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love”, melt hard hearts, thaw frozen hearts, heal hurting hearts. It’s never just about “moving on”, but moving towards you.
     Write fresh stories of redemption and reconciliation—stories that will reveal the beauty of Jesus and the power of the gospel. Free us from ourselves for yourself. Astonish us, Father; astonish us as you override our unbelief. We long to hear Peter banging on our doors. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name. - Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

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