1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
I don’t want to rush past verse 2… James was murdered simply because he did not like the christian faith. A life removed for the sake of the Gospel and as we continue to read we see Peter seemingly going towards the same fate! The Church, though seeing what happened to James, begins to earnestly pray for Peter. It is curious that they are doing this even though it seems like he will endure the same fate as James! Lets keep reading:
6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9 And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
James’ life was taken and the church earnestly prays over Peter. As they pray God provides! Even though things seem hopeless they pray and see things changed!! In some circumstances we look at prayer as pointless. We see the situation and assume the outcome will happen regardless. Wow… essentially we are saying, “this crisis/event is bigger than God.” What a mighty and awful statement, even if it is just with actions. Like the early Church we are to pray even when things seem bleak. We are to pray ESPECIALLY when things seem bleak. One of the benefits of prayer is that we can pull change into seemingly impossible circumstances! Yet as a Church it seems we are walking further and further from prayer. We are losing one of the most powerful and intimate paths of communication with God. I long for the days when our Churches EARNESTLY pray for change. Sincere, intense conviction… that is what earnest means. Are you earnestly seeking the Lord in prayer?
Lord help me see the power in prayer! Help me to desire to be a good steward of my prayer life. Help me to CHERISH the moments my voice enters Your throne room and you listen to my words. Thank You for listening as I, a mere human, speak.
Prayer, don’t make it out as a last ditch effort. Begin reminding your friends and family that prayer should be our FIRST avenue for everything. In fact you shouldn’t even be wasting time thinking about a secondary option until AFTER you have prayed. Let people know… or are you afraid God wont answer?