Summary: To make us believe that God is still working in our lives today. That we cannot place the Lord in a box and give him commands.
THE IMPOSSIBLE PRAYER
FOCUS: THE ACCOUNT OF THE ARREST OF PETER AND HIS DELIVERANCE BY THE HAND OF GOD.
FUNCTION: TO PROMOTE A STRONGER FAITH IN THE WEAK PRAYERS OF CHRISTIANS.
TEXT: ACTS 12:1-17
Eddie from the Brown Trail Church of Christ in Bedford, Texas pulled me aside one Sunday morning before a congregational potluck. He wanted to tell me something extremely important but desired to tell me secretively. He had a sense of shock and joy on his eighty-year-old face. I could tell that this news will or has changed his outlook on life. I knew that this information was the only idea on his mind.
Eddie told me that I had to keep this information to myself and I promised not to tell anyone in the congregation. He was afraid of what his brothers and sisters in Christ would think of him if they knew what happened. In a quiet tone, he began to tell me his story.
Eddie was suffering with cancer in his liver for sometime. I am unsure of how long. He was scared that he would die soon. He said he was praying that God would heal him, even though, he doubted that God would work in that manner. Though, he prayed because he was desperate. That week he went into the hospital to get an update and a check up on the progress of the cancer. To his and the doctor’s surprise, all the cancer was gone. It was if he never had cancer in the first place. Eddie could not explain this and neither could the doctor.
Somehow Eddie was healed. Eddie believed, though going against his ideas about how God can operate, that God healed him. He had no other explanation for what just occurred. He believed that God answered his prayers.
Today we pray impossible prayers. In the first century they asked impossible prayers. Now we all know today that Benny Hinn and everyone else who claims that they have miraculous powers are wrong. Man cannot heal another man by his touch. The way that the Apostles could heal in the first century is not available to us today. On the other hand, we do not want to limit the power of God in today’s world. Man cannot heal but God can heal. God can cause great things to happen. God still has the power to answer the impossible prayers. It is sad when we put God in a box or place manmade rules on the Lord. God is God and can do what He pleases. God can answer prayers today anyway He wishes.
Let me tell you a story about an impossible prayer being answered in the book of Acts. I am going to tell this story through the eyes of three people. First of all, I am going to tell the story through the eyes of the servant girl Rhoda, then through the eyes of the Disciples in the room, and then through the eyes of Peter the Apostle.
Rhoda’s story is in Acts 12:1-17. Rhoda was a servant girl for Mary who was the mother of John Mark. That night the disciples were praying that Peter would be released from the prison that Herod the second put Peter in to wait until the end of the Passover so he could kill him in the sight of the Jews. Rhoda was a servant in a wealthy household because this house had to be big enough to hold a large gathering of people. In the middle of the night she goes to the door because she hears a light knock upon it. She looks out the door window and sees a face. She realizes that it is Peter whom they been praying for that night. She is so excited that she forgets to open the door. She runs back to the praying disciples to tell them the good news. She says, “Peter is at the back door.” They look at her with stock and doubt on their faces. This is impossible. How can Peter be freed? They do not believe her and tell her that it must be his spirit. The text says Angel but a better rendering in the Greek is spirit. The disciples believe that Peter has been killed and his spirit is outside. They do not believe her because she is a simple servant girl. They think that she is out of her mind. She must be craze to think that Peter has returned.
Another way of looking at this story is through the disciple’s eyes. They were scared to death. Herod just killed James, which was one of the leaders in the early Church. This pleased the people so Herod was going to kill Peter to secure more favor from the Jews. The disciples knew that Herod was on shaky ground with the Roman government. He would do anything to gain the favor of the Jews and there was a no better way to do this than to kill off those hated disciples. He was on a tear.