Prayer’s Path to Wonder | June 22, 2023
When war broke out between Russia and Ukraine last year, some of my dearest Russian pastor friends had to escape quickly for fear of persecution. I wrote the following devotion below which was originally published last July at Proverbs 31 Ministries, Encouragement for Today.* God indeed hears our prayers and moves on our behalf for our persecuted brothers and sisters across the globe.
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him … when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.” Acts 12:5, 16 (NIV)
Halfway across the world, our missionary friends were fleeing their homeland to escape threats and dangers of war. When they arrived at the border city, it was locked down.
Days of conflict, closed doors and desperate prayers for God to make a way out had led our friends to this moment at the border. Those of us stateside prayed for God to move on their behalf.
I thought about the Apostle Peter in prison in Acts 12. His situation seemed hopeless. The Apostle James had just been murdered, and Peter was next. As believers prayed in a nearby home, an angel came to Peter, opening locked doors and guiding him out into safety and freedom. (Acts 12:6-10)
I prayed that for my friends: Lord, please provide angels to guide them across the border, right past the armed guards. Together with my 13-year-old son, we asked God to do this miraculous thing.
Moments felt heavy and long.
Then the text came: We made it.
We cheered. We sobbed. Then we sat in awe, amazed at what just happened.
Have you ever prayed a prayer but then were surprised when God answered? Have you prayed in faith, but you never expected Him to answer in the way He did?
There is something astonishing about how God answers prayer, causing us to be taken aback in wonder.
In Acts 12:13-15, the believers were praying all night when suddenly “Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’ ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, ‘It must be his angel’” (NIV).
It was easier for them to believe it was an angel than Peter himself. Those devoted, first-century Christians in Jerusalem couldn’t believe God had answered their prayers this way. It’s so good to know I’m not the only one who prays passionate prayers and finds herself in awe and wonder when God actually answers.
Our key verses say, “The church was earnestly praying to God for him … when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished” (Acts 12:5, 16). Awe and wonder.
Wonder is “the rapt attention and deep emotion caused by the sight of something extraordinary.” Isn’t that exactly what it’s like when God answers prayer?
As little children, everything is a wonder. The wings of a butterfly, the tiny cheerio stuck to our finger, the box the refrigerator came in. Jesus says the Kingdom of heaven belongs to little children. (Matthew 19:14) Could it be they have eyes to see His wonders all around? That in their humility of spirit, children are free to delight in God?
Prayer is a path to wonder. Childlike wonder fuels our faith, stirring up our passion to pray and pay attention to what God is doing all around us. When we feel angsty and fidgety as our brains bounce with busyness, may we not miss moments of the miraculous because we don’t take time to notice God’s answers to prayer. Instead, may we chase His wonder in our every day.
Oh Lord, how I want more of the wonder You give when You answer my fervent prayer. Help me listen and look for Your extraordinary in my ordinary. May this wonder connect me more deeply to You and to others, strengthening me to pray with passion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Psalm 17:6-7, “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love …” (NIV)
What is something you have been praying fervently for? How might you listen and look for God with more wonder today?