How long does one have to wait for answered prayer? A day? A week? 6 months? A year? Quite a few years? That’s a very good question that men and women have been asking since creation. Abraham and Sarah waited literally a lifetime for a child. Israel waited 4 generations for a savior to take them out of Egypt, and Moses waited 40 years in the wilderness to be given a mission. Half of Psalms deals with waiting on God, so there isn’t a time limit for GOD to answer prayers. Personally, I wish it was immediate because I’m impatient and a bit ADD. I pray for “things” (not material, but stuff going on in my life) and if it doesn’t happen within a few weeks, I feel like GOD isn’t listening and GOD isn’t going to give it to me because I’m not doing something……and that’s crap to be honest. GOD has perfect timing and a plan. If it doesn’t happen then that means either it’s not time yet or it’s not right for me. What I’m learning about prayer is that it takes patience and commitment. Both of which I’m not good about. I’m doing better with the patience portion, but the commitment, well, as I said, I’m a bit ADD and when it doesn’t happen after a couple of months I tend to move on to something else and the situations and people tend to get left behind in the immediate-ness ( I just thought I’d create my own word right there) of life. GOD knows what we need and when we need it and HE will provide. That’s what today’s conversation is about. It’s about GOD providing a healing at the right time and it’s about Peter stepping into a role GOD knew Peter could fulfill, at the right time. When Jesus first met Peter, HE knew Peter’s destiny, but at the time Peter was far from ready to step into it. It took three years and what seemed like a bitter disappointment and failure to make Peter grow up and step into a role GOD meant for him. Let’s take a closer look at Peter’s next growing moment.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
This next conversation begins with an example of prayer. At least to me it is a story of prayer. It opens with Peter and John heading to the temple at three in the afternoon. Historically, 3 pm was a designated (it may still be) prayer time for the Jews to pray at the temple, so Peter and John were going to where the people were, and they were going to pray as well. “Coincidentally”, it says a man who was lame from birth was being carried to his typical spot where he normally posted himself to beg for money from those going into the temple. Now, I put coincidentally in parenthesis because to me, there are no coincidences in the kingdom of GOD. There is a plan and a reason for every moment/opportunity/tragedy/disappointment/etc that happens in our life. Acts 3 states that the man was born lame, unable to walk. I’m sure this was a crushing disappointment to his family, it limited his future and the future of his parents as well. I have no doubt that there were many prayers prayed over this man as he was growing up for healing, which up to this point had never happened. We’re not given the man’s age, but he is now an adult whose only option is to sit by the temple gates and beg from others for money to live. Who knows, maybe by now he had quit believing in a better future,disappointment was part of his life and probably his future. He had no expectations on this particular day except that hopefully he’d get enough money for another dinner that would get him through another day. God had other plans for him. On this particular day, Peter and John saw him. What they saw wasn’t just a beggar though, they saw him as how Christ sees him, and that was a man with destiny that was more then a beggar. The apostles looked at him and their first words to him were: “Look at us.” They wanted his attention, and I’m sure when he heard them say that, he was expecting some kind of payday, maybe a generous gift, so he gave them his attention. Peter’s next words probably dashed his expectations though, because Peter said he had no money to give him. Another moment of disappointment in a lifetime of disappointments, but then Peter does something strange, he extends his hand and says something even stranger: “ but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Was there a moment’s hesitation? Was there a moment when the only thought in his head was: “these guys are crazy and are ripping me off”? Maybe, probably, we don’t know. What we do know is that the man extended his hand and got to his feet and immediately he was healed. At that moment he became a living breathing testimony of GOD’s power. MANY preachers use this verse as an example of how GOD can immediately heal someone, and rightly so: The man was immediately healed. What I think many people don’t realize was that it was also a testimony in timing. Many prayers were prayed over this man probably and many years went by before he was actually healed. Healing was immediate, but it wasn’t timely. It wasn’t in the expected time of his family, certainly wasn’t in his expected time frame, but it was in the right moment that GOD knew as right. Verses 11-26 goes on to document Peter’s message to the crowd and it is summed up perfectly in verse 16:
16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.”
Chapter 4 goes on to document what happened next, and that will be another topic, but it says that 5 thousand men believed that day. It doesn’t give the number of women, but my assumption is that an equal number of women believed as well. So, by the faith of one man who had experienced a lifetime of disappointment 5-10,000 people were added to the kingdom of GOD that day. This day wasn’t so much about Peter, but about a man whose lame faith became stronger. We see Peter stepping up to his role as a leader and speaker, but it’s also about a man who has lived a lifetime of disappointment and because of his faith, it was all washed away. Could he have chosen to not extend his hand to Peter? Maybe, probably, but he did and his life changed.
Here’s the takeaway for me in this conversation: Never give up on your expectations of GOD. Never allow disappointment/heartbreak/disillusionment/etc to allow you to believe that GOD is not listening to your prayers. People disappoint, GOD prepares. In heartbreak and disappointment are lessons of growth and preparation, we don’t see it at the time, all we see is the heartbreak and the ashes left over. GOD has a reason for those tears and heartbreak and they’re never wasted. From the ashes will come something different, something better. It will not always be immediate. It could, but most of the time, well, it takes time. The expectation is that we have to walk and grow from that disappointment. It says that the lame man jumped up and began to walk and went with them to the temple praising GOD. Could he have jumped up and ran home immediately to his family? Yeah, he could have, but he chose to follow and because he did at least 5 thousand men and women changed their lives. People recognized him as the beggar. People were watching this man, people who he never realized noticed him before, noticed him this day. People are watching us, people whom we think don’t even notice our struggle are watching how we handle it. When we overcome our struggle people will notice and GOD will bless it. We just have to be patient and allow GOD to work in our struggle and have faith when GOD extend HIS hand.