Acts 11:4-5 starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: “I was in the city of Joppa praying…”
In his gospel and the book of Acts Luke, more often than the other biblical writers, makes a point of mentioning that before or while the action unfolds someone is praying. The story he tells in Acts 10 and 11 is central to the way the early church changed from seeing themselves as a branch of Judaism to a movement of God that would embrace all people in all places. It wasn’t an easy shift for these folks to make and it all began with Peter in prayer. When I was growing up there was a radio personality who often reminded his listeners that “prayer doesn’t change things. Prayer changes people and people change things.” In our day we might be more inclined to change the emphasis saying “things are changing so fast that we need to pray.” Prayer is more an attitude of the heart than a religious technique and most people I know struggle to pray regularly and authentically. Those who have entered that struggle however are people who have reflected God in a way that has made an impression on me. We may not have the history changing vision that Peter has in this passage, but when we pray things happen, within and through and around us. Maybe they would happen anyway and prayer just opens our eyes to see them aright. Whichever, it is God who is active and prayer connects us with that activity. Whatever city you find yourself in this week, literally or metaphorically, pray.