Acts 12:8-16 (KJV)
3And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
4And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
5Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. 6And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
7And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands
8And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
10When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
11And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
12And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
13And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
14And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
15And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
16But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
Isn't it funny that the religious folks who were in prayer for Peter's release were the same group who was in unbelief when the young lady, Rhoda, told them Peter was at the door? In her excitement she failed to let Peter in but she knew his voice and immediately ran to share to good news with those who prayed. Her faith didn't require her to even see Peter's face. She simply took off running and rejoicing.
Why do we pray? Many of us fall on our knees, seeking the Lord for things that we have no expectation of receiving. We fool ourselves into thinking faith is exercised because we said the prayer but we really don't know if God will deliver. Prayer is but a portion of faith. Anyone can wish for something. I wish I had a million dollars right now (See, that didn't work). Saying stuff doesn't equate to faith. When faith is exercised, the words that flow from our mouths must be words coupled with an expectation and an assurance that comes when true faith is practiced. It is in line with the will of the Lord and paired with the confidence that God hears us when we pray. However, we seek the Lord hoping He hears us and wishing for the desired outcome.
When the prayer is answered (not because of faith but sometimes because the Lord is just merciful) we act surprised or neglect to give thanks to Whom thanks is due. We even accuse others of being "off" when they exercise faith that seems illogical. Rarely do faith and logic agree. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen, right? (Hebrews 11:1) It causes us to operate as if we are in expectation of what we seek of the Lord to come to pass, period.
When these people who were gathered together for Peter's sake began to pray, someone should have been standing at the door waiting on Peter to arrive. This is what faith does. Faith changes the way we perceive the situation, even when the present seems dim. Faith makes us prepare or make room for the blessing or rise from our knees knowing that God is working things out in our behalf, even now.
If we pray and leave from before the Lord unsure of His will or if He heard us, we haven't learned how to pray yet. In fact, we have not truly digested the Word of the Lord concerning our prayer. We know God is able but often we struggle with whether He is willing to answer our prayers. Now if you are praying to win the lottery or hit it big at the casino, you might not get the blessing you desire. But the Word of God tells us: "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1 John 5:14-15). It says, "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it" (John 14:14). God wants to answer prayer.
Why do you pray? Is it to get an answer or simply to have someone there to hear you complain? Is there an expectation? Is there faith? Is it left in the hands of a God who cares, who is able and willing to answer your prayer?
Remember, Jesus could not do many works because of unbelief. Our lack of faith can affect the outcome. What a revelation!
In the words of my pastor, "It's time to raise our level of expectation!" It's time to make room for the blessing. To accept the deliverance and to receive the healing. The Lord has already looked into eternity and has seen our need. Now, we have to seek Him in faith to receive what's already been made available.