The following post is not written in my words. I copied this VERBATIM from an email sent to me from Pocket Testament League.
Day 151: Why Are We Surprised When God Answers Our Prayers?
But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.
Thoughts for Today:
Previously the church was earnestly praying for Peter’s release from prison. Now here he was standing at the door, yet when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. I see a lot of myself in this story. The church was busy praying, the servant girl comes and tells them that Peter is at the door (verse 15). Those praying tell her she is crazy and return to praying; she tells them again (verse 16) and they say it must be his angel and go back to praying. Peter keeps knocking (verse 17) and they finally open the door to find Peter standing there — the answer to their prayers — yet they were astonished. Why? Why were they so shocked? Peter’s presence at the door was God’s direct answer to their prayers. Isn’t that what they had been praying for?
I think the answer lies in what we think our role is in a miracle. Did the church think it was the length of their prayer that was important? Maybe they weren’t finished as not everyone had a chance to pray. Did they have a different expectation for the outcome? Perhaps they expected a more public demonstration of God’s power (how about a lightning bolt?). The warning to us in this passage is to not miss God’s answer to our prayer just because it comes quickly or isn’t exactly what we expect.
Questions to Ponder:
There is a very fine line here: knowing when to continue to pray (being steadfast), yet knowing when to look up and acknowledge that a prayer has been answered. It can be very confusing because God doesn’t always choose to answer prayer in the way we expect. Take a moment and go down your prayer list. Has God already spoken or answered your prayer? Why do you continue to pray? Maybe it’s because the outcome isn’t what you expected or wanted? Do you really think God is wrong? How strong is your faith?
Do you keep a prayer list? Let me encourage you to record what you are praying for and when you begin praying for it. Include personal requests, requests from family and friends, and requests from church and missionaries. When God answers a prayer from your list, record what His answer was and when it came. Often we cannot see answers to our prayers until we ask specifically and then expect results.