Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.”
So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Reading about Peter healing the sick and raising the dead can seem inspiring and also intimidating. When we read the text closer we realized that Peter prays or invokes the name of Jesus prior to these miracles. This can seem inspiring as we realize what is possible with God. However, it can also seem intimidating when we pray for strength, courage, forgiveness and many other things that are not nearly as difficult as healing the sick or raising the dead.
Surely if God can help Peter with this major request, then God can handle my relatively small and humble request, right? This is a results-based approach to prayer that can be a trap that I can fall into. Instead of focusing on the outcome of prayer it is helpful for me to focus on who I am praying to. My prayer is already answered when I turn to God for anything. Not because I get what I asked for, but because I go to God. When we go to God, we admit we cannot do it on our own, things are out of our control, we need something beyond ourselves. That is where we encounter God, not in the receiving. It seems Peter realized this, we remember what Peter was like when he tried to handle things on his own. However, we also see what is possible when Peter relies on God.
Has it been difficult for you to keep praying even when you do not feel your prayers have been answered?
What has been good about your turning to God in prayer?
—Br. Pat Douglas, S.J, is Vocation Promoter for the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus and a residence hall chaplain at Creighton University, Omaha, NE. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.
Lord, while we share are crosses and petitions with you, our greater desire is to grow closer to you. When our prayers seem to go unanswered, move us ever more toward you. And if we find our faith faltering, we will trust that your love is steadfast. And with this conviction, we pledge our life to you. In doing so, we will hold to your promise that our life will be blessed with abundance and significance.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team