Read: Acts 12:5
So, Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
Reflect: What a picture, Peter, the one who Jesus had chosen to help lead this small band of believers to change the world, was in a huge crisis. No doubt he would be killed soon by King Herod. Verses 1-3 make that clear.
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
I think it is safe to say that Peter was as good as dead in the hands of Herod. He had already killed James and he had seen the favorable response to James’ death. Peter certainly wasn’t long for this world, but “The church was earnestly praying for him.” What a statement, “The Church.” We hear so many negative things about the church today, how bad “organized religion” is etc., but here we see the church being the church God intended it to be. Jesus said in Matthew 21:13, “It is written,” He said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of robbers.” We His people, the church, are called to pray. We are equipped by His Spirit to pray and we have been given great and powerful promises that when we pray He will move. Prayer is our bridge to God. Our link to His heart and to His power. It makes a way over every crisis, over every obstacle that stands against His work. In this story Peter is sleeping in prison when an Angel awakens him and tells him to get up and walk out of there. His chains fell off and the prison doors opened. In verse 23, wicked King Herod is in fact the one who dies not Peter, all because the church prayed. Do we have any idea of the power God has put in our midst through prayer? As A.B. Simpson said, “He is not looking for great people but for people who will dare to prove the greatness of their God!” We are called to make a difference in our world which cannot be done without prayer, earnest prayer. That is a very important word. The church was praying, but they were praying “earnestly” or fervently. This is one of my favorite words in the New Testament, ektenos. It means to stretch out. The church was fervently praying and it was stretching people out. This is what we are called to do, my friends, stretch out for others in crisis, for others in need. God has given us this wonderful place in His Kingdom filled with authority and power to take hold of situations and circumstances supernaturally and see Him change destinies.
Prayer: Father, teach me to believe beyond what is safe for me. Teach me to stretch out for you and your Kingdom believing you can still do today what you did for Peter in his day.