Acts 9:36-43 (NIV)
In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”
Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.
Tabitha (Aramaic) or Dorcas (Greek), both of which mean “gazelle,” was a hard-working disciple doing compassionate ministry work in the coastal town of Joppa. When she got sick and died, the Christian community was heartbroken, and really felt that she had been taken far too soon.
They heard that Peter was in Lydda, just a 12-mile trip from Joppa, and they sent two young men to run the whole way and ask him to come to them right away. They did not set Peter’s agenda, simply asking him to come at once and depending on him to hear and obey whatever God’s will was.
When Peter arrived later that day, he was taken to the upstairs room where Dorcas was laid out. The group of widows who had worked with Dorcas, some of whom had found salvation through her ministry to them, showed Peter some of the things she had made, and told him how she had ministered so effectively to so many.
Peter was touched, but he knew that what happened next was not his to decide. So, he sent everyone out of the room. Once they were gone and the room was quiet, he faced the window and knelt to pray. His prayer was not for Dorcas, but for himself. He needed to know what God wanted him to do in this situation. Once he knew that, he could take obedient action, but not before.
God answered quickly, telling him to simply tell the woman to get up. So, Peter got up, turned to the body lying on the bed, and spoke God’s words to her: “Tabitha, get up.”
At once she opened her eyes and looked around, a little confused. Then she saw Peter standing near her and sat up, startled. But Peter’s smile and the light that seemed to shine from his face set her at ease, and she let him help her to her feet. Peter then called down the stair to the group waiting and praying. They came up, saw Dorcas standing with Peter, and were overjoyed that their prayers had been answered.
This mighty miracle was talked about all over the region and served to open the hearts of many people to the good news of the kingdom. Peter himself decided to stay in Joppa for a while, living in the upstairs guest room of Simon the tanner.
Father, even Peter did not simply decide what he wanted You to do and then direct You to do it. He lived as Jesus did, only doing what You told him to do (John 5:19) and doing it fully and immediately. If he didn’t know what You wanted him to do, he stopped and asked, and then waited until he heard. That’s a much different (and much better) model than what many of us have been taught: trying to persuade You with polished prayers and pious phrasing to do what we, in our limited humanness, have decided that You should do. Lord, help me, when faced with any situation, to pray first, then to listen, and only to act after we have heard from You, and always acting in accordance with Your commands. Amen.
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