12/02/18 They Were Astounded

READING: Acts 12

“Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astounded.”

Acts 12:16

The early church was praying for Peter’s release from a jail cell, especially when James had been put to death as a martyr.* They prayed earnestly, in fact, and even gathered for the purpose of prayer (Acts 12:5, 12). God heard their prayers, and he sent an angel to unshackle Peter and lead him past the guard posts to the gate of the city — which promptly and supernaturally opened by itself. God had miraculously responded to the prayers of His people. 

When Peter made his way to the place the church was meeting, though, they did not believe he had been truly freed. Peter knocked on the door of the house where they were gathered, and a servant girl recognized his voice. Excited by what she heard, she left Peter outside the door in the gateway to announce his presence to the church. 

Their response? “’You’re crazy!’ they told her. Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astounded.” (Acts 12:15-16)

They had prayed earnestly . . . but were astounded when God answered!

It would be so easy to condemn the early church if we weren’t so much like them. To pray fervently is easy when the battle is intense; but, to believe equally fervently isn’t always so easy. We sometimes say the right words without the right heart. We pray because we know we need to do so, but we’re not always convinced fully that God is going to answer – and we’re surprised when He does.  

Be honest: are you praying a prayer today that you’ll be surprised if God answers it? If so, confess your faith struggle to God, and then keep praying!


  • Thank God that He is faithful to us even we struggle in faith.
  • Praise Him for sometimes answering prayers even when He knows we’ll be astounded.

PRAYER: “God, like the father with the demon-possessed boy in Mark 9, I believe — but help my unbelief, especially about trusting You in prayer.”


*devotion first published in 2015