“Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, ‘Tabitha, rise up.’” (Acts 9:40)
Throughout the Book of Acts, we see Peter acting confidently by the power of the Holy Spirit. He preaches powerful sermons that convert thousands. He heals a lame beggar at the Temple gate (Acts 3:1-10). He says boldly to the paralyzed Aeneas, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up” (9:34). This is quite an impressive man!
Today’s reading gives us a glimpse of what lies behind Peter’s astounding power. When the Christians in Joppa send for him after the death of their dear sister in the Lord, Tabitha, Peter doesn’t spring immediately into action. He listens attentively to what the community tells him about her. Then he sends them all out of the room so he can have some time alone. Before doing anything else, he kneels in prayer, seeking God’s mind. He seeks to know if it is Tabitha’s time to die, or if God has something else in mind for her, and for the community who love her. Only when Peter has united himself with the Father does he turn and speak to Tabitha, effectively calling her back to life.
Faced with illness and other difficulties, we often rush to intercessory prayer, urging others to join us in our intention. We beg God to heal a brother, bring a wayward child to repentance, or solve a financial crisis. These are worthy objectives, and we are right to pray for such things. But let’s not miss an important step. We should always take the time to unite ourselves with the Father quietly and seek his mind and heart. We should linger with him long enough to enter into his love for the person whose welfare concerns us. We should ask him to open our eyes to some greater good he may be seeking to bring about.
This time of quiet seeking can help us discern what role God has for us in the matter. Not only will God help us understand how we should pray. He will show us also whether he wants us to take direct action to serve, to heal, or to speak his life-giving word.
“Holy Spirit, I wait patiently for you. Show me what’s on your mind and in your plans for me and those I love today.”