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An Airhead Girl, the Disciples' Unbelief and a Waiting Apostle

Updated on May 30, 2013

How God reports it

Herod's popularity rating was off the charts. He had just killed one of Jesus' original disciples, James. Now he'd imprisoned Peter intending, no doubt, to do the same with him. But God intervened. While sleeping between the guards, Peter felt a blow to his side. He awoke with a jolt to hear an angel command him to dress and to follow him. Quietly they stole out through miraculously opened gates. That's when Peter found himself alone on a dark street in Jerusalem. Now God's own word...

"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

I love Rhoda

Yes, I liked the one played by Valerie Harper too (1970s sitcom). But this Rhoda is mentioned only once in Scripture. Her name means "rose" and has its origin in a Greek island named Rhodes where roses grew wild. She must have known and loved Peter, for when she heard his voice at the door, she recognized him immediately and ran to report his presence to the folks inside. While Peter must have been just a little miffed, we can forgive her focus lapse. I've had a few of those myself.


An all-too-familiar prayer meeting

In the wake of John's death and Peter's imprisonment, it's not surprising that someone must have said, "Let's have a prayer meeting." People in crises do that. They gathered at the home of Mary the mother of John Mark, who later accompanied the disciples on some of their travels. The presence of a servant girl marks the family out as among the wealthy 1%ers.

Don't know if it was open prayer where everyone offers his or her own petition, either one by one or all at once. Don't know if they prayed in tongues and danced in the aisles. Don't know if they lifted their hands to heaven or prostrated themselves on their knees.

What we do know is that there were "many", probably a lot more than gather in the average American church's prayer meeting, if there's one at all.

They prayed but didn't expect anything

By all counts, this was a sub-par prayer meeting. Didn't Jesus assert, "whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." Matthew 21:22 (underline mine) Isn't it a Christian truism that if we want something to happen we must have faith. So we buy books, go to seminars and listen to sermons so that our faith will grow stronger. We can then pray effectively and God will do great things (read "do what we want.")

God should not have answered this crowd's prayer!

But He did!

Of course we are to pray continuously, fervently and believingly. But don't, for one moment think, that by doing so, you control God. A god manipulated by our prayers isn't worth praying to.

While He often orchestrates events to respond to our prayers, He just as often brings about good things totally apart from our prayers and in spite of our unbelief. Much of contemporary Christian spirituality is nothing more than a thinly disguised marketing ploy by which desperate people are told to believe and do the right things so that God will do good things for them. "Let's keep it positive and upbeat."

In a recent Fox News appearance, Joel and Victoria Osteen were interviewed by Chris Wallace. In the ten minute segment the only mention of Christ was by Victoria asserting that He never put anyone down. Not sure the Pharisees would agree. When, Chris reminded her of Jesus overturning the money-changers' tables, she claimed that was an exception. Chris bore on, "But doesn't the Bible say a lot about sin and sinners?" The answer? "Yes, but we can put it in a more positive way. We encourage people to do better!" There was not one word about Christ's death on behalf of sinners nor about our taking up his cross and following Him.

Is it any wonder that the Christian faith is ridiculed by many sensitive and thinking people? I don't blame them. To quote Paul, the Osteens preach "a different gospel."

Prayer: A response to God's Word and Work

That's why we pray. God has acted first by revealing his heart to us in the Bible. He continues to act as he superintends world and personal events. We pray to bring our hearts and desires into line with God's purposes. Would a faithful follower of Jesus want anything else?

Want some model prayers? The prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples is a good beginning. Note how it is totally God focused. Then go to the psalms. Notice how often the psalmist begins with negative sentiments and ends with positive praise. Check out Psalm 13, Psalm 79 and many others.

Comments - I'm listening

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    • liftandsoar profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank P. Crane 

      6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Deborah for stopping n and commenting on my hub. Glad you found it useful.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      God Bless you for writing this.. Michele told me it was good and she is right. I will share this on Facebook on my prayer page.


    • liftandsoar profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank P. Crane 

      6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks PDXKaraokeGuy, Glad to have you visit. Appreciate your comment.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      I appreciate you calling out the Osteens' for the fraudulent snakes they are. Great hub. Lots to ponder. Up and shared

    • liftandsoar profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank P. Crane 

      6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Good to hear from you Jo. Glad you liked the hub.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image


      6 years ago

      Really enjoyed this article. I never knew there was a Rhoda in the bible. I feel so embarassed. I guess, I better catch up on some reading! Voted up and shared..:)

    • liftandsoar profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank P. Crane 

      6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks for visiting, mathair. Glad you found the hub stimulating.

    • mathair profile image


      6 years ago from Ireland

      Lots of food for thought here. Very good article.

    • liftandsoar profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank P. Crane 

      6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, gracefaith. Appreciate your comment and encouragement. Glad you found it helpful.

    • gracefaith profile image


      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Haha, what a catchy title, and such a down to Earth way of communicating the story as it was. Kudos, great way of ministering to the masses :)


    • MilesArmbruster profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere on the journey

      A few years back I was leading a youth group for a church and the most popular monthly event was our prayer meeting. We would pray for about five hours, and the students, who knew the importance of prayer, just loved those nights. We would use the "Acts 1:8" model of prayer, starting at home and expanding our prayers to the ends of the earth.

      Praying the psalms is always a great idea because they reflect and express our deepest struggles, fears and joys to God in a way that maintains the proper respect and reverence to God. And also, they tend to end with or at least include praise and thanksgiving. Two prayers that I have found to be helpful are from Ephesians 1:`5-23, and Ephesians 3:14-21

    • liftandsoar profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank P. Crane 

      6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thank you, FaithReaper, good to meet you. Glad to have you on my "team". And thanks for the fan mail. You are very gracious.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Amen on this one! Thank you for writing this awesome hub. His ways or not our ways, and His timing is perfect, nothing like ours. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      That is a very good idea, I will pass it on.

    • liftandsoar profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank P. Crane 

      6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Michele. Pass it on if you feel it will help someone else. It's good to have confirmation from one who has meet the Osteens in person. I've only read about him and saw the Fox interview.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is the best hub ever written. Many people in these days are having difficult times. I have seen Joel Osteen in person, when visiting Texas. I listened to him preach, and then was able to shake his hand. You are very, very correct. All he preached about was money. Pray to God and ask Him for money. Not in that exact way, but money was the way. I was in Texas for a few months, but the nothing changed. Money! It was money. Pray for money.

      I pray for people to read this hub. Thank you very much for writing it and God Bless you.


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