Perhaps it is because of her thorough knowledge that our Sunday School classes take you on a trip through the Word. You may begin in one book, but inevitably the journey will take you to another book for background information or to gain a deeper understanding of what you're reading.
Such was the case this Sunday.
Our Sunday School lesson began in the Book of Matthew, but we took a side trip to the Book of Acts -- Acts 12 to be exact.
To make a long story short, this chapter talks about Peter, a follower of Jesus, and how he was imprisoned for this affiliation. He was guarded by 16 men and it was expected that he would spend a few nights in jail, be brought to trial and, most likely, be killed.
But during his time behind bars, the church folk prayed earnestly for him. So...
The night before he was to be brought to trial, an angel appeared to him in jail and told him to get up. The chains binding him had been loosed and he walked out freely.
Initially Peter thought the entire episode was a dream, but he quickly realized that he was, in fact, a freed man.
Now here's the part of the story that really struck me...
Peter's first stop was to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. Many of the believers were gathered there, praying for his safety.
Peter knocked on the door and a servant girl named Rhoda peeped out. She saw Peter, but she was so shocked that she didn't open the door, she just ran to tell the others that Peter was at the door. They didn't believe her.
They told Rhoda that she must have been mistaken, that it may have been Peter's ghost at the door, but it certainly could not be Peter.
I'm not one to judge, but how crazy is that? Why would they pray for Peter's safe return and then not believe it when he safely returned?
But aren't we sometimes that way?
Good church folks like us are taught to pray for the things we want and need, so we pray. But do we pray believing that God will come through for us? Or do we pray just because we're just going through the motions, just doing what we've always done.
Don't answer that. :-) God sees our hearts. He knows.
So, if we're going to pray (and we are), let's pray with a strong conviction and a clear realization of who God is and believe that He can do anything.
If we're going to pray let's not try to stifle what God can do based upon our own human limitations.
If we're going to pray, let's make it count by trusting in God, standing on His promises, and resting in the blessed assurance that He loves us and will come through for us -- sometimes not in the way we expected, but in the way that's divinely right.
I will be forever grateful for the power of prayer. As the good church people say, "Prayer Changes Things."