Teaching Series
What About James?
Acts 12:1-19

Series: What About James? 
Message: What About James?
Preacher: Mic Thurber
Daily Walk: David Smith

Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 67.

Read: Acts 12:1-19 (NLT). As you read the New Living Translation, note 1-3 insights/questions.

Reflect: The questions raised from this week’s passage are about more than simply why some people appear to experience more blessings than others. Rather, the story makes us ask fundamental questions about prayer. Why did God chose to answer the prayers of the church and release Peter? We don’t know if the church was praying in the same fashion for James, but presumably they would have been. Why didn’t God answer those prayers? Why did he let James die? 
Have you ever asked God to intervene in some way only to be disappointed? If you haven’t experienced this, I’d question whether you have ever really prayed! Yet there are also prayers we pray—sometimes huge prayers—that are answered beyond what we could have ever imagined. Why do some prayers get answered and others do not? 
I’m not sure if we’ll ever have clear answers to these questions on this side of eternity (Job certainly didn’t get clear answers on God’s interventions!). Perhaps sometimes we become so caught up with whether we get what we want that we lose sight of what prayer is about. Rather than viewing prayer as a relational connection to God, we view prayer as a vending machine. In Timothy Keller’s book, Prayer, he writes: “We would never produce the full range of biblical prayer if we were initiating prayer according to our own inner needs and psychology. It can only be produced if we are responding in prayer according to who God is as revealed in the Scripture. . . . Some prayers in the Bible are like an intimate conversation with a friend, others like an appeal to a great monarch, and others approximate a wrestling match. . . . We must not decide how to pray based on what types of prayer are the most effective for producing the experiences and feelings we want. We pray in response to God himself.”

In other words, prayer isn't simply about getting what we want. We are certainly invited to make requests of God, but we must never forget that prayer is ultimately “in response to God himself."

Recalibrate: ​ 

  1. How are you able to maintain your faith even in the face of seemingly unanswered prayers?
  2. When answers to prayer seem random, what keeps you coming back to God in prayer?
  3. When you pray, how much of your time is devoted to “your list” versus having a conversation with God?

Respond: Pray for God to reveal Himself to you today.

Research: How does the description of Herod in the book of Acts differ from the description of Herod by Josephus? How does one reconcile the differences? 

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