“Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” Acts 10:13
When you read a sentence like this one you have to wonder if being obedient to God’s will is perhaps more difficult for vegetarians than the rest of us carnivores. Certainly for Peter, and therefore for us today, responding to God’s will is often more difficult than we think. Like most of us Peter was going along his merry way thinking that his day would unfold as is it usually did after his midday Jewish prescribed prayer session on the roof of his B & B accommodation in Joppa, with the gentle breeze off the Mediterranean Sea keeping him cool. Little did he know how prayer would change him forever that day – prayer has a way of doing that doesn’t it? After-all it is a conversation with the living God which will most likely challenge some of our current thinking and perceptions of who God is and what he requires of us.
It may be worth considering that if we perceive God’s will in a particular situation as being something quite easy to respond to, and that we have it all neatly worked out, that we are not actually responding to His will, but rather ours. You can hear the strenuous internal struggle Peter had on this occasion against the backdrop of the calm Mediterranean, “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean,” Acts 10:14. I don’t know about you, but I think we should always be careful of saying “never” to God, because it may well be that “never” thing is the very thing God want us to do. It certainly was on this occasion for Peter, who like many of us today in the church, was suffering from a severe case of racial prejudice and theological short-sightedness. He felt as we often do that God’s love should be limited to within the safety of our church or our particular ethnic group. Personal piety stops being a good thing when it prevents us from loving not-yet Christians. Fortunately saint Peter did not hold onto his hallowed halo too tightly and neither should we, especially when God is calling us to reach out to the others.
I think it’s safe to say that prayer will always change us and challenge us as we seek to respond to God’s will. But this is a good thing and not something we should ever be afraid of because that’s really where true joy is, responding in obedience to God’s gracious will. Think of all the new wonderful friends Peter made that day as he allowed the Gospel to change his heart and lead him into new territory. Is God perhaps inviting us to do the same today?
Prayer: Father, thank you for the gift of everyday prayer that changes us from the inside out. Help us to respond in joyful obedience and make some wonderful new friends with people from across the racial divides in our magnificent country.