Job 30-32; Acts 12:1- 13:12; Psalm 46-47
The church continues to grow despite at times fierce persecution – and in the midst of it there is a powerful sense of the community of the believers, powerfully engaged together in the mission of God.
James, one of the Boanerges is put to the sword. Herod seeing it gains him kudos with some of the people throws Peter into prison for good measure. And we read of how the church prays fervently for him. But their prayers are shown to be rooted not in some deluded sense that they have as it were found the key – as if prayer was magic. When miraculously Peter is released from prison [A contemporary story of God’s acting thus can be found in this book], the church do not believe it can be true – yet all the same they have been praying fervently. So their joy is multiplied.
What is clear is that we do not see the whole picture – that we pray for the Good but it is not always forthcoming. The point is not that we try to figure this out, as if prayer was a formula, but that together we pray.
They are given direction by the Spirit, but still enter fully into the work through fasting and prayer, and the work flourishes. When as the people of God we act as we are, the body of Christ, fasting and praying, worshipping and mourning, Together, we touch the edge of his hem. For most of us however in the modern western church, our questions about unanswered prayers are rarely those of the whole body. Our faith has become radically individualised.