Day 10 of the Great 50 Days of Easter: Miracles are not Earned
Adapted from Acts 3.1-10
Dear Jesus, When we read in the Book of Acts how Peter and John went to the Temple for prayer meeting, they met a man crippled from birth. People carried the man, to the Temple gate. His job was to beg as people entered. He asked Peter and John for a handout. Peter looked him straight in the eye and said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked. Then the man walked into the Temple with them. When people saw him walking, they recognized him and praised God. They scarcely believed what they were seeing. The man threw his arms around Peter and John, ecstatic.
Dear Lord, miracles do not play well in 2017, in fact, too may charlatans pretend to have their own healing powers and have made the modern world skeptical and even cynical. How are we to understand this story?
When I read this text last year, I thought, “Let’s just find another one.” But the story had already wormed its way into my heart. You see I believe in miracles—but one thing I have come to learn is that a miracle is always God’s decision and it is not done because someone is more deserving—it is accomplished to show the awesome power of God. Will Willimon reminds us, “Peter goes to great pains in his interpretation of the healing miracle that it is not by the disciples’ power or piety that the man is healed (3.12) but rather it is by the name of Jesus.” The action in this story of healing power in Jesus’ name “is the direct link between the living Lord in heaven and his community on earth.” (Willimon, Acts, 1998, p. 45.)
So here’s the thing: there is a plethora of “self-improvement” books, videos and classes that we gobble up every year. Often times people move to prayer in the name of Jesus as a last resort. What if we moved prayer to the forefront of our intentions? Understanding that prayer is not magic—it is not human beings attempting to control divine power. This new community formed in Acts “cares deeply about the exercise of healing power, not simply because there is misery in the world that ought to be set right but because healing is experienced as visible evidence of the presence of the community’s Lord and Savior.” (p. 46) Will we pray before we act?
Prayer recap: Dear Lord, Your miracles have been recorded and continue to this day. Help us to u
nderstand that miracles are gifts, not merited favor. Help us to pray without ceasing for those things You have placed on our hearts. Amen.