God resists our desire for “formulas”…


Acts 12:1 About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him. 

This passage from Acts 12 describes how James, one of the key leaders among Jesus’ original 12 disciples, was arrested and “killed with the sword”. Then Peter, another key leader among the disciples, was also arrested. However rather than being killed, Peter was freed by an angel of the Lord and walked out of prison without a scratch.

James died while Peter walked. Why? I wonder if James’ family asked that question of God. It would be natural to do so. I have no doubt people fervently prayed for James as they did for Peter, but the outcome was different – and no explanation given. It just is what it is.

As human beings we search for consistency. If prayer and fasting led to freedom in one case, we’d like it to produce the same result in the next, but that’s not how God works. I have been frustrated by this more times than I can count. All I know is that faith cannot be reduced to a formula. Should we enter prayer and fasting when someone is struggling or in trouble? Absolutely. Will prayer and fasting always result in the outcome we want? Definitely not. Why not? I have no idea.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us trusting God for outcomes. That kind of trust is also called “faith”. Lord, give me faith in all circumstances, especially when I don’t understand. Amen.

One thought on “God resists our desire for “formulas”…


    We can’t ask for consistency. Believing is faith, not science. In science, you get predictable results. We often ask God to do the impossible, which would go against science.

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